The winners of the 2018 Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year awards were announced at a black-tie gala dinner at La Residence Hotel at the end of November. Franschhoek’s Clayton Reabow (Môreson) and Rudger van Wyk (Stark-Condé Wines, Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch) claimed the top honours, respectively.
The awards are presented to the winemakers who produce a wine that the judging panel considers the best in a specified class. The categories for 2018 were Chardonnay single varietal wines for Winemaker of the Year and Red Wines of any varietal or blend for Young Winemaker of the Year.
The judges for the 2018 awards were: Michael O’Connell (International judge), Carrie Adams, Debi Van Flymen, Michael Crossley, Nomonde Kubheka and Ntsiki Biyela.
This year’s Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (Chardonnay category), Clayton Reabow, impressed the judges with his Môreson 2017 Mercator Chardonnay. Clayton was a finalist in the 2017 Winemaker awards (Pinotage category) and the winner of the 2009 Young Winemaker of the Year award. The 2018 Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year, Rudger van Wyk, received his award (Red Wines category) for the Stark-Condé 2016 Stellenbosch Syrah.
The winning Winemaker receives R50 000 while the Young Winemaker receives R25 000. Both winemakers also receive two return air tickets on Delta Airlines to any US wine producing region.
Reabow grew up in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. He completed a BSc Agriculture: Viticulture and Oenology degree at the University of Stellenbosch in 2004. In between working some local vintages, he travelled to other wine producing areas such as Bordeaux in France and the Mosel Valley in Germany to broaden his horizons. On returning to South Africa, he applied for the winemaking position at Môreson in 2007 and has never looked back. In 2011 Clayton completed a Postgraduate Master’s degree in Wine Business Management, Cum Laude, at the UCT Graduate School of Business.