Dizzy Blonde Confused by Woman Winemaker of the Year

Neil Pendock July 21, 2010 36

Call me a dizzy (natural) blonde but when I read the press release that Andrea Freeborough had won the Landbouweekblad SA Woman Winemaker of the Year Competition yesterday for “her” Fleur du Cap NLH 2009, I was slightly confused as I thought Pieter Badenhorst had made it. As must a couple of the judges, “Cathy Marston, wine writer from the UK and Cathy van Zyl, a British master of wine, and wine judge” who were at the same slap-up lunch at the Coopmanhuijs in Stellenbosch in the middle of May to launch the wine. Heck, the gorgeous, pouting PR who e-mailed the bombshell, Nicolette Waterford, was at the same bash where cosmopolitan blogger Clare Mack dinged her dong about La Colombe. If I’m confused, goodness knows what bashful brunette Greg Landman is going through.

Greg searches high and low for the Woman Winemaker of the Year

Greg searches high and low for the Woman Winemaker of the Year

Don’t get me wrong, as the Pretenders sing, Andrea is a whizz at making NLH, as her glittering career at Nederburg confirms, but has Landbouweekblad done a Diners Club here? Especially when the interview and skimpy swimming costume rounds of the competition were cancelled.

As competition owner Lorraine Immelman noted “The decision was taken because nowadays all winemakers are expected to be more than a winemaker, but an ambassador for their winery and ultimately South Africa. Whereas the second round of judging (personal interviews with the judges) in the past was aimed at finding an ambassador and role model from the top entrants, that seems somewhat redundant now.” Come again? Lorraine is surely arguing for a second round.


  1. confusing July 21, 2010 at 7:56 am -

    Neil- you think it is confusing now, as the creater of the wine seems to change quicker than a chameleon in a smartie box.
    wait till 2012 comes by when the Diners Club winemaker of the year’s category is NLH…… ching/chong/chow anyone??

  2. Bunghole July 21, 2010 at 8:36 am -

    Does Andrea get to share her 25000 rand prize with the real winemaker Pieter, or maybe she should give it all to him. Is she a cheat?

  3. Cathy Marston July 21, 2010 at 8:41 am -

    It’s an interesting topic isn’t it – who is actually responsible for making the wine when you have a cellarmaster/winemaker scenario? Personally, I am sure that Andrea has been around the block long enough and has too much integrity to claim credit for anyone else’s work so am still happy with the result, but if you want to stir things up, I think there are questions to be asked here. And not just who wins awards either – what about who gets to join the CWG? Is it the cellarmaster or the person who got their hands dirty? Or does the cellarmaster get their hands dirty and I’m maligning them!! Would you have been asking your question the other way round if Andrea was a lowly winemaker with a brilliant cellarmaster to guide her – then who would we have thought was responsible for the wine? Are you a closet feminist? Are you a closet misogynist?! Could this be yet another case of ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ (I’m going to have to start paying royalties on that phrase soon)? I think we ought to be told!! Love the pic of Greg though x

  4. Neil Pendock July 21, 2010 at 8:52 am -

    Hi Cathy

    Distell certainly seem to think Pieter made the wine. This from a press release from them last month on the performance of Fleur du Cap at the International Wine Challenge in London:

    “The Fleur du Cap gold medal hat trick was secured by two Noble Late Harvest vintages – 2008 and 2009 – and the 2009 Unfiltered Semillon, whilst the 2008 Semillon vintage received a silver medal. A record number or 46 countries participated in this prestigious competition with a marked 15% increase in the number of wines judged this year.

    Excelling as South Africa’s top achiever is yet another coup for Fleur du Cap’s white winemaker, Pieter Badenhorst.”

    There is no mention of Andrea.

  5. Cathy Marston July 21, 2010 at 9:08 am -

    So again – where does that leave the winemaker/cellarmaster debate?? If we laud Razvan, Pieter F, John L for their wines, why is this different?? And I think blonde suits you x

  6. Bunghole July 21, 2010 at 9:11 am -

    Cathy Darling, lauding is one issue. R25000 is another!

  7. confusing July 21, 2010 at 9:34 am -

    Status quo is the name of the game Cathy.
    CWG is a amazing institution but caught in quicksand- scared if they move, they sink, so keep it all as it is.
    Their constitution is quite clear that membership is awarded to an winemaker ( cellarmaster etc etc) due to his/her reputation and track record- all very admirable. But no other winemaker at said cellar will be eligible for membership- as only one person at a cellar can have membership. So is the membership awarded to winemaking skill and trackrecord or to the property? so Razvan can get membership but Tariro by default will never be eligible until Razvan moves along endowing Guild status to any cellar he is moving to over night, or Tariro moves and starts building his “reputation” from scratch.

  8. Cui Bono? July 21, 2010 at 10:33 am -

    Cathy, you’re defending the indefensible here. If your palates are so good, surely you could have tasted that the Fleur du Cap was not made by a woman.

    You clearly can’t taste the difference between wine made by a man or a woman so what is the rationale for this competition?

    Julius and I have a Black Winemaker of the Year Competition in mind. Would you like to judge that? How about Gay Winemaker of the Year?

  9. Bunghole July 21, 2010 at 11:01 am -

    If Cathy is trying to defend the cellarmaster/winemaker thingy then lets award woman wine maker of the year to Jan Scannell, as he is Andrea “the cheat” ‘s boss.

  10. Macho Mike July 21, 2010 at 11:23 am -

    Who were the judges at this fiasco? Presumably all women?

    This makes South African wine making the laughing stock of the world.

  11. Just Saying July 21, 2010 at 11:34 am -

    @MachoMike – oh I think you’re giving this competition a little more credit than it deserves! And @Bunghole If there’s money going begging, then why not this girl – at least she makes good wine. I read elsewhere that her other wine came second so she probably deserves it. And Cathy’s questions seem fair enough to me – there’s always going to be arguments about this kind of thing and they never seem to be clearcut – look at the Chenin challenge fiasco and the Diners Club one too. I agree with her – damned if you do and damned if you don’t – nice quote!

  12. Bunghole July 21, 2010 at 11:42 am -

    @just saying

    She NEVER made the wine!!!

  13. Kwispedoor July 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm -

    It’s a mess. Young winemakers get no credit, while the cellar masters (many of which act more in a managerial / marketing capacity) get all of it. And if great wine can only be made from great grapes, where’s the viticulturist’s credit? Maybe these awards should be shared – or given to the producing owner.

  14. Slinky July 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm -

    As a female winemaker I find it rather sad that the todays mindset of entering a competition is to deceive. Surely Andrea knew she was entering wines that she did not make? Did the marketing dept force her to enter? Did they take away her ability to reason and to remain honest?

  15. The Wine Taxi July 21, 2010 at 1:12 pm -

    Bring on the shows. Who will be our first Gay Winemaker of the Year? Our first Disabled Winemaker of the Year? The official winner of the Bulk Winemaker of the Year? And who will wear that lauded crown of Winemaker of the Year with the Most Friends on Facebook?

    Simple truth – and I have heard this from many winemakers: Awards are for marketers. Most wine makers couldn’t give a toss. They are invariably entered without even knowing a lot of the time, especially in the larger cellars.

    BTW The wine cellars who don’t have 5 years worth of back vintage wines sitting in their tanks and storerooms, they are worthy of a mention too!

  16. Riaan July 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm -

    Is WOSA involved?

  17. Cui Bono? July 21, 2010 at 3:33 pm -

    Cathy, how can you say Andrea “has too much integrity to claim credit for anyone else’s work so [you are] still happy with the result” when the lady in question is conspicuously silent on the issue?

    Is it because she’s a sister, too? Did Lorraine pay you to say this?

  18. Michelle July 22, 2010 at 8:45 am -


    Just wanted to point out that Andrea has rusted the picture of woman in SA Wine.

    Also, I find its embarassing to see that a man made the winning wine for a wine tasting that was to be for ladies.

    I stay in the Overberg and we dont behave like this.

    Michelle van Wyk.

  19. Distell July 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm -


    Andrea Freeborough, cellarmaster at Die Bergkelder, who was crowned the 2010 SA Woman Winemaker of the Year earlier this week for the 2009 Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest, is to use her prize of R25 000 to further the team’s exposure to international winemaking.

    “I am deeply honoured to have been selected as this year’s winner but the achievement has not been attained single-handedly. Although I lead the team and am responsible for the style of the wines made under the Fleur du Cap label amongst others, I work closely with my winemaking colleagues and their support staff. I can think of no better way of celebrating than by sharing the prize.”

    Her approach is ‘hands-on in the entire winemaking process’, she says, both in the cellar and in the composition of the final blends. With her direction ultimately shaping the style and character of the Fleur du Cap range, it very much bears her personal stamp. She works closely with the winemakers in her team, Pieter Badenhorst who makes the white wines and Justin Corrans, who makes the reds.

    Freeborough was one of 32 women represented in this year’s competition. The 2009 Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest was voted the best of 77 entries. The 2009 Unfiltered Fleur du Cap Chardonnay came second.

    Earlier this year, the same Noble Late Harvest earned a gold medal at the 2010 International Wine Challenge in London, in which Fleur du Cap emerged as the most successful South African producer, winning three of the 10 golds awarded to local wines on the show.

  20. Andrea Freeborough July 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm -

    It has been brought to my attention that certain concerns have been raised about the awarding of the Landbouweekblad Woman Winemaker of the Year Award in 2010 and I would like the right of response.

    First: The entry into this competition was well within the rules and therefore the allegation of cheating is unfounded. As Cellar Manager/ head winemaker, it is my responsibility to ensure the consistency and quality of our blends and it is for this reason that I am intimately involved during the entire winemaking process, especially blending. It is ultimately my responsibility to approve each and every blend produced at Die Bergkelder. The extent that Cellar Managers are involved in actual winemaking varies from cellar to cellar, so to assume that I am not a winemaker purely because of my title, is unfair.

    Second: At no point have I tried to steal the limelight. If you read the press releases you will see that I clearly state that the wines made at Die Bergkelder are a team effort. I have at no point stated that I am solely responsible for the NLH nor any of the other wines produced at our cellar. Die Bergkelder is proud to produce quality wines that each staff member is encouraged and allowed to promote as individuals, yet the wine belongs to the team involved and not to any individual person. In all the interviews that I have been granted relating to the success of Fleur de Cap wines, I have always given credit to the team members, including our producers, viticulturalists and the entire wine making team. In the case of this award, it is no different.

    Third: It is Distell policy that no individual may accept any form of prize or compensation from an outside party. I communicated with the competition organizers (on Friday before this point even became an issue) that I would therefore not be allowed to accept the prize money in my personal capacity. These funds have been received by Distell and will be used for further exposure for the winemakers at Die Bergkelder.

    I hope this response will place the facts on the table and put to rest the unfounded speculation raised on this site. Furthermore, if any individual would like to move beyond the anonymity of this blog space and discuss the issues with me personally, you are more than welcome to contact me at the Office.

  21. Neil Pendock July 22, 2010 at 6:16 pm -

    Hi Andrea

    Thanks for clearing that up. Just to explain the source of my confusion. I am posting the Distell press release issued when the Fleur du Cap NLH 2009 was released in May. They unfortunately left you out of it.

    Best wishes

    Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest worth its weight in Gold

    Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest, aptly referred to as liquid gold by the winemaking team, is set apart as one of South Africa’s top dessert wines by its enviable track record of consistency in quality and acclaim. Vintage after vintage this singular noble late harvest has proved that it is most certainly worth its weight in gold in terms of prestigious awards.

    It is the wine’s phenomenal 5-star rating for three consecutive years in Platter’s Wine Guide that challenges every ounce of Fleur du Cap winemaker Pieter Badenhorst. “Noble Late Harvest is one of the most challenging wines to produce but receiving three 5-star ratings in Platter alone makes it worthwhile,” says Pieter.

    Over the years, Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest has received numerous Veritas Gold medals, and more recently a Gold medal at the 2008 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and a Grand D’Or at the 2009 Michelangelo awards, showing a proud heritage of great depth and consistency.

    “There is definitely a difference in the thought process when it comes to making a show wine and a wine made for everyday consumption,” says Pieter, a talented winemaker in his own right. “However, when you get to make a wine that appeals to the wine lover, the wine judges and writers alike, then you have without a doubt hit a winning formula.”

    The Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest is known for its bright yellow colour with hints of gold. The wine displays delicious aromas of honey, litchi, dried fruit, orange marmalade and dusty botrytis balanced sublimely with great acidity that tempers the sweetness and accentuates fruity flavours on the palate.

    Meticulous selection of the best quality botrytis grapes is the foundation on which Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest has built its reputation. While most of the wines have been made from Rhine Riesling, Chenin blanc was used in some of the earlier vintages. The Platter 5-star 2008 vintage is a blend of Semillon and Rhine Riesling, while the 2009 vintage has reverted back to Chenin Blanc.

    “I am very privileged to have a dedicated team working with me at Fleur du Cap that spare no effort to continue the proud track record that we have build up with our dessert wine,” says Pieter.

  22. Norman McFarlane July 23, 2010 at 1:17 pm -

    Perhaps the wine ought not to have been entered in the first place, considering its confusing parentage.

  23. Madame Fifi July 23, 2010 at 10:26 pm -

    Amen Norman – why was this wine entered in the first place? Looks like huge communication problems in the Distell marketing department. Mixed messages, The Afrikaans have a beautiful word for this – poespas…deurmekaarspul!!!

  24. fortheloveofwine July 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm -

    I have yet to meet the womanwinemaker of the year who made their own wines. From Ivy du Toit, the Spier girl who there was also gossiped about, to the 2007 winner, who’s 2007 Boet Erasmus now won the trophy at the London wine show for SA Blend ( it think), when it was clearly stated in an initial press release that Nico Vermeulen was involved with the entire 2007 harvest. I don’t know, seems to me all the winning winemakers need male assistance.

  25. Beeld July 28, 2010 at 2:05 pm -

    Beeld agrees that Pieter Badenhorst should be the woman winemaker of the year:


  26. jacko August 12, 2010 at 11:35 am -

    so much arguing! An analogy-a five star restaurant is attributed to the chef e.g.ramsey. The food served is made by many others but his stamp/mark is on all the dishes. So a tart made by one of the lesser chefs is still attributed to Ramsey. Surely same must apply to making one wine. The cellar master/mistress must or may also get the kudos

  27. Embo June 5, 2011 at 7:04 am -

    All this self important posturing! It’s a good reason to drink beer. Try some of the great new local micro beers, you might find yourself becoming less shrill

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