SA Wines: How America Sees Us

Neil Pendock December 2, 2013 4

A refreshing new wine tourism book Exploring the Cape Winelands of South Africa: scenic day routes to the 101 best wineries by Dr. Doris Jansen and Dr. Kay Muir-Leresche who live in the USA except between January and March when they decamp to Rooi Els on the Cape South Coast. Long distance swallows advising tourists where to spit and swallow. Rooi Els is close to Pringle Bay where the Platter editor and his taster have a holiday home. Although when it came to choosing the 101 best wineries in SA, their picks could not be further from perceived Platter wisdom.


For no sign of the Platter Winery of the Year fashionable Mullineux Family Wines, nor indeed any producer in the Swartland. Sorry for you, Eben, Adi, Craig, Callie and Marc. Also no sign of Cederberg Private Cellar which tied with the Mullies at four five star stunners but lacked an Indian genii in a bottle who recently bought three farms in Franschhoek where the awards are determined (according to conspiracy theorists). Hard to believe, I must say.

Hermanus was visited, but no Newton Johnson who made Plattana’s best red nor La Vierge who make the sexiest Pinot Noir in SA IMHO. Nothing at all from Darling, Breedekloof, Bot River, Robertson, Worcester (which produced the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year on Saturday) nor the Olifants River, Tulbagh, Southern Cape nor Klein Karoo. Nothing from Wellington. No L’Ormarins nor Anthonij Rupert in spite of the huge confidence in that brand from the Wine Spectator.

So where do the wineries come from? Over half are from Stellenbosch with Franschhoek #2. But forget about outmoded concepts like the Simonsberg, Helderberg, Jonkershoek, Bottelary Hills, Stellenboschkloof etc. The Bosch is divided, compass-like, into north, south, east and west Stellenbosch just like Hollywood. The style of the text is easy breezy – none of this tortured drivel from the likes of Dr. No, the Wine Lizard and other constipated wine anoraks with teeth, hair and feet issues.

The authors wrote their guide because “we couldn’t find a photographically attractive guide that allowed us to plan enjoyable days in the wine country. Most of the tourist guides are crowded with advertising.” What an indictment of SA wine hackery. Is this why Johann Rupert is making a R2.3 billion bid for 40% of Caxtons publishing? Could there be a new wine magazine and Platter guide on the horizon? Is the Reg Lascaris/Diners Club cosy monopoly about to be challenged?


  1. WineRuffian December 3, 2013 at 11:03 am -

    Here we go again….and again.
    Hard to make out what your opinion of the book might be through all the stabs at local wine publications. This is not, a paid-for-by-the-producers publication, far from it. This is a subjective view presented by the authors of their 101 best wineries to visit, with no ratings, no favours or side-deals.
    With things like accessibility, attractions and general “nice to visit” attitude being major contributors to the decision making, it makes for a nice change of scenery to the dull and clearly biased guides we do have already.
    Less bickering about the wine and their ratings, sighted/blind etc bla bla…enjoy it for what it is, and take off the troll hat.
    There are loads of wineries with amazing wines not on the list, yes we know, but as this is not a competition why bicker over who made the list or not?

  2. Neil Pendock December 3, 2013 at 11:09 am -

    Dear Ruffian

    Do you use a pseudonym because you’re telling porkie pies? Producers were asked to buy copies of the book, which is a form of pay to play. An example of a “side deal” you deny were made. Shame on you for trying to mislead my hundreds of readers!

    I like the book but certainly your comment is not entirely truthful.

  3. WineRuffian December 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm -

    It is sad that MY opinion of the matter, thus completely my own and subjective, is being labelled as a “lie”. My comment regarding the ‘troll hat’ was not in reference to you at all Mr Pendock, more of a general comment at the sad state a lot of wine blogs are in currently in.
    I have been an avid follower and reader of your writing for quite some years and hold you in high esteem, thus I feel the aggro you’re slinging my way is undeserved and quite uncalled for.
    I am not a wine producer, maker or marketer with any stake or benefit received from the industry, I am a mere Joe Soap.
    Mislead? It is hard to believe that my opinion would sway and mislead hundreds of readers if in essence, it was merely my point of view on the matter.
    So please, soak some of the venom you spit up and see some daylight…not everyone is your enemy.

  4. Neil Pendock December 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm -


    You’d be so much more believable if you used your own name. Who are you?

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