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Poll: The top five South African wineries

By , 27 November 2023



Construction of a new 180-tonne cellar for Sadie Family Wines continues.

A poll of 25 selected wine professionals has put Sadie Family Wines way ahead as South Africa’s top winery. Voters were asked to name their top five wineries and to rank them. With five points given to their No. 1 choice, down to one point for No. 5, the results are as follows:

  1. Sadie Family Wines (100)
  2. Alheit Vineyards (53)
  3. Mullineux (49)
  4. Kanonkop (31)
  5. Savage (18)

The last time such a poll was undertaken was in 2018 when Sadie also placed first (see here). Alheit Vineyards has moved from third to second place, Kanonkop has dropped from second to fourth, Mullineux moves up one place from fourth to third and Savage enters the top five for the first time. Boekenhoutskloof is the winery that drops out. There were 37 wineries nominated for a top five place in total.

The poll was instigated by contributor Tim James in 2001 and this is the ninth time that it has been undertaken. Participants werer asked to nominate an additional 15 wineries in alphabetical order, to make up a Top 20 and this list will be published tomorrow but please note this will only be available to subscribers – to sign up, click here.

The voters:

Stephanie Cartwright – sommelier, Marble Hospitality, Johannesburg
Pieter “Kwispedoor” de Klerk – consumer, Johannesburg
Christian Eedes – editor, Winemag.co.za
Matthew Freemantle – owner, Leo’s Wine Bar, Cape Town
Michael Fridjhon – critic, Johannesburg
Higgo Jacobs – sommelier at large, Cape Town
Tim James – wine writer, Cape Town       
Angela Lloyd – wine writer, Cape Town
Cathy Marston – WSET educator, Cape Town
Corlien Morris – owner, Wine Menu, Johannesburg
Sinisa Nikolic – owner, Brasserie de Paris, Pretoria
Anzio Obery – manager, Publik Wine Bar, Cape Town
Roland Peens – consultant, Stanford
Francois Rautenbach – general manager, Singita Premier Wine Direct
JP Rossouw – owner, Wine Village, Hermanus
LeRoi van der Vyver – head sommelier, ëlgr restaurant, Cape Town

Marc Almert –sommelier, Switzerland
Tim Atkin MW – critic, United Kingdom
Lars Daniels – writer, Netherlands 
Job de Swart MW – buyer, Netherlands
Jamie Goode – writer, United Kingdom
Greg Sherwood – buyer, United Kingdom
Alastair Viner – buyer, United Kingdom
Jo Wessels – sommelier, Germany
Maximilian Wilm – sommelier, Germany

The Top 20 South African wineries poll results available here.

Read commentary by Tim James on the poll results here.


22 comment(s)

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    Udo | 29 November 2023

    Good list, but the diversity in the panel is more 1990 then 2023.
    Besides color not enough woman, not enough youngsters, international nobody from outside Europe?

    Mike Froud, Top Wine SA | 28 November 2023

    Interesting that Alheit didn’t receive a single 5 Star rating in the 2024 issue of Platter’s SA Wine Guide.

    wiebo van der meulen | 28 November 2023

    Christian , the breakdown – international vs local scoring would be interesting

      Christian Eedes | 28 November 2023

      Hi Weibo, While there was quite a lot of overlap regarding the wineries at the top of list across the board, responses got increasingly disparate thereafter and I’m not sure that comparing international versus local would be that enlightening.

    John Dale | 28 November 2023

    I am a wine drinker from Bloemfontein who buys his daily tipple from the wine racks of PnP. I usually go for the R60-80 price range, and occasionally venture into Rhoodeberg territory. I rarely, if ever, read Wine magazines.
    So you will not be surprised to learn that I have never heard of any of your ‘cast-in-stone’ top three, but was comforted to see Kanonkop there at No 4. Sadly, I have also never heard of Savage. I shall have to consult Mr Google to expand my knowledge.

    Blessing Musiya | 28 November 2023

    Very good list of winners with a few exceptions as always, My only concern is the panel of judges we should not be talking about being inclusive in 2023, unless the wine.mag has a specific target audience

    Reuben | 28 November 2023

    No person of color on the panel of judges!? Interesting.

    BvR | 27 November 2023

    Personally, I’m looking forward to the return of “John” and his amusing views.

    FrankH | 27 November 2023

    With the top 3 almost carved in stone it would have been much more interesting to get a list of at least the top ten. Suppose number 10 won’t have much less points then Savage (making the voting quite heterogeneous below the podium)?

    Charlescb poole | 27 November 2023

    Further to my earlier comment. My personal choice would Be Springfield
    Consistent quality and good prices as well for the quality. Nobody can or shoot me for my choice. The Big Guns in the top 5 I love but mostly for special occassion consumption. BUT so difficult to secure some bottles for special occasions. Mostly available on Allocation.

      Gideon Van Tonder | 28 November 2023

      Charlescb poole, I fully agree with you: Springfield.

      One must trust your own taste and palate and visit the wineries yourself. Getting a firsthand view of the “what’s, how’s and why’s” behind a wine brand is essential to me. I find the “personality” of the brand crucial.

      Furthermore, as you eluded to, devotion to consistency, affordability and value should carry weight, and also be celebrated!

      Therefore, I too, placed Springfield at the top of my list.

    Charlescb poole | 27 November 2023

    Each person is entitled to their view but do not need to be rude about it when expressing disagreement. Trust your own taste and palate and visit the wineries of your choice. There are so many. The vote was cast by those who have taken the time to visit and taste for themselves. Use this as guide from those who have been to these wineries. Make your own choices.

    Ian | 27 November 2023

    Jan Kemp are you okay there? If not sommeliers, industry writers, and trade professionals, who then is better placed to vote for SA’s top wineries? What’s wrong with a poll that openly declares who the voters were and how the voting process was weighted? You’re more than entitled to disagree, and probably nobody will agree with all 5 x rankings. But seriously, take your hate elsewhere bru, it’s so not cool to post that kak here.

    Ashley Westaway | 27 November 2023

    The rise and rise and rise of the Swartland…

    Keith Prothero | 27 November 2023

    Actually, on reflection, Lismore then Vergelegen:)

    Keith Prothero | 27 November 2023

    That would have been my list with one exception. Vergelegen for me ahead of Savage .

    Jan Kemp | 27 November 2023

    So,only the band of brothers/sisters gets to vote, for the wines that pays the most for winemag reviews……..sounds like only Julius and Floyd are allowed mext year….absolute waste of digital space.,for the 9th time.

      Christian Eedes | 27 November 2023

      Hi Jan, Just to clarify our tasting methodology: Day-to-day reviews as conducted by me are sighted and designated as “CE’s rating” while Prescient Reports involve a panel tasting blind (label out of sight). Wineries can request sighted review at no cost but also with no obligation on our part to publish or they can submit for blind review involving assessment against their peers by the panel as part of our category tastings – this involves an entry fee of R1250 per wine.

      Greg Sherwood | 27 November 2023

      Jan, I am curious who you think should vote for this “trending list” of SA producers if not somms, writers and wine trade professionals? (Or are you also one of the eternally sceptical people who also poo poo wine competitions (sighted or blind) because not every single producer enters?)

      This list of participants, especially for the international contributors, are the most informed and knowledgable group of wine commentators specifically with regards to South Africa’s finest producers over a longer term trend. I seem to be missing the issue that is causing your obvious annoyance.

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