South African wines won multiple awards at the Decanter World Wine Awards which were held this past week under strict COVID-19 preventative measures. South Africa’s wine industry provides roughly 290,000 jobs directly and indirectly to South Africa's economy. The $2.6 billion dollar industry contributed some $400 million excise and VAT tax revenue to the South African Revenue Service in 2019.
Now in its 17th year, the 2020 competition saw South Africa performing well against classic wine producing regions Classic regions in France, Italy, Spain, California, and Australia once again performed well.
South African winemakers have much to drink to given the results. South Africa improved its medal haul 16% compared to 2019. The Rainbow Nation's vineyards took home one "Best in Show" award, as well as four Platinum, 31 Gold, 364 Silver and 136 Bronze awards.
Rustenberg Five Soldiers Chardonnay 2018, hailing from South Africa’s well-known Simonsberg-Stellenbosch wine producing region won "Best in Show". Indeed a third of the wines that won medals in 2020 hailed from this region.
However, other wine producing region in South Africa won accolades in 2020 as well. Cape Agulhas, a small wine-producing region on the southern tip of South Africa was also well represented. All seven of its entries won medals including one Platinum for the Ghost Corner Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2018. This quiet coastal region is located roughly 170km from Cape Town.
South Africa’s other three Platinum medals came from a variety of different regions across South Africa’s Western Cape region. Notably Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2016, a 100% Muscat de Frontignan, won one of only 22 Platinum medals given to sweet wines in 2020.
The event was also notable for the very strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 put in by the hosts. All staffs and judges wore Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). All visitors had their temperatures checked at the door, and even disposable spittoons with antibacterial powder that solidifies with liquid were deployed. Attendees were also wore proximity tags worn on lanyards that vibrate when they came within 2 meters of another attendees.
“The Decanter World Wine Awards really helps producers to raise their profile internationally. It can do the same for wine-producing regions and nations, too. Our judging system - including re-tasting of all Golds, with possible promotion to Platinum - is something we are very proud of. We explain it as often as we can. So, when consumers see a DWWA sticker on a bottle, be it Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze, they can be reassured that the wine in question has been judged by regional experts and specialists before receiving its medal. We discuss, we argue, we fight it out...that's all part of the judging fun. Even with social distancing! But that's also how you get the results which have made the DWWA an international wine benchmark,” said Andrew Jefford the events co-chair in a media statement.
South Africa's wine know how is spreading across the continent as well. Last year a Western Cape wine company, La RicMal, announced plans to open a bottling plant for wine in Ghana.