Franschhoek spin doctors must be kicking themselves over the fiasco of this year’s wine writers’ prize for by deciding to not award it, the door was left open for Du Toitskloof to start their own “wine writer of the year award.” SA wine writers will be happy as the prize is increased (to R30K) and the judges have some credibility and impartiality – a serious lacking in the Franschhoek event.
The Franschhoek judging process this year was a shambles, with one local judge (a radio personality) phoning wine writing acquaintances to enquire if they had entered, communicating his unhappiness with the quality of submissions with the overseas judges and even causing a second round of entries to be accepted – most irregular and a serious scandal.
The Du Toitskloof judging panel will be chaired by Dr Gawie Botma of the Department of Journalism at Stellenbosch University and include features writer Erns Grundling, Maureen Joubert, veteran wine journalist and a past editor of Wynboer (today Wineland), and Prof Ian Glenn who heads the Department of Media Studies at the University of Cape Town.
Another first is the publishing of criteria against which submissions will be judged “quality of the research and of the writing, user-friendliness, credibility of sources as well as originality and insight.” Yet another innovation is the levelling of the playing fields by asking entrants to write about a specific topic: “the consequences of climate change on the South African Wine Industry” which should resolve the unfair nature of requiring published entries be submitted, which saw boring ego trips from the pages of a foreign magazine nobody in SA reads, triumph twice. It should also preserve the anonymity of submissions which was not achievable at Franschhoek thanks to Google and other search engines.
Franschhoek is also under fire for opportunism from other appellations for establishing the Franschhoek cap classique route when the pioneers of the style hail from Stellenbosch with Robertson doing far more to establish MCC in SA than Franschhoek. A case of “good artists borrow, great artists steal” as Picasso observed, or lazy marketing?
STOP PRESS: Yet another Wine Writing Competition will be launched this coming week as a nice Bastille Day present for Franschhoek marketers. Well done to radio personality John Maytham for setting SA wine writing free. Quite a few of the SA wine writers judged too rubbishy by John for Franschhoek will be judges for the new competition.