Friday, September 25, 2009

Zelma Long Selected for Top Honors at ASEV’s annual meeting in NAPA

DAVIS, CA, April 2, 2009

Each year, extraordinary contributions are made to the artistry and science of enology and viticulture. The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) announced that its two highest honors, the Merit Award will be presented to Ms. Zelma Long at the Society's 60th Annual Meeting to be held in Napa, California, from June 23-26.

Zelma Long, a world renowned winemaking master will be honored with the ASEV's Merit Award. Her copious accomplishments are impressive and revered throughout the industry. She was the first woman in the industry to run both the winemaking and business side of a major winery and led Simi Winery to prominence serving as its winemaker/vice president, president and finally CEO in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, she is the owner and winemaking partner with her husband, Philip Freese, of Vilafonte (Wine Estate) in South Africa as well as owner and winemaker of Long Vineyards in California's Napa Valley. Long has received national and international awards throughout her career for her leadership positions in wine industry organizations, which have included: founding president of the American Vineyard Foundation, chair of the American Viticultural and Enology Research Network (AVERN), founding president of the Alexander Valley Winegrowers, founding member of the North Coast Viticultural Research Group, ASEV Board director and member of the local Board of the International Women's Forum. She will receive the Merit Award on Thursday, June 25.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Zelma Long, winemaking partner and co-founder of Vilafonté vineyards in
South Africa has been awarded the ASEV American Society of
Enology & Viticulture's prestigious annual MERIT award for her distinguished
career and contribution to the industry. The Vilafonté tem are very proud.
Pictured is Zelma with Mike Silacci, the President of the American Society
of Enology and Viticulture, and also Winemaker and General Manager of Opus
One (and a friend).
Congratulations Zelma!!


Paying tribute to valued WINE CLUB members and celebrating Norma Ratcliffe’s 25 years of winemaking 


Warwick Wine Estate recently hosted a glittering and glamorous bash at Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay’s Maze Restaurant, at hotelier-extraordinaire Sol Kerzner’s, One&Only at the V&A Waterfront. This glitzy bash commemorated matermalias, Norma Ratcliffe’s, quarter-century milestone as the inaugural wine-maker and proprietor of the Estate: a noteworthy and significant landmark which bears testament to the resolute bedrock on which the brand is built. At the same time, the influential estate honoured prized members of their ever-expanding Wine Club. Aficionados, friends and family alike attended this swanky affair, toasting Warwick’s largely unrivalled success, as well as paying homage to pioneer and matriarch, wine-maker and style-director, the iconic Norma Ratcliffe. 


The choice of venue was fitting, as Warwick was in the proverbial spotlight earlier this year at the glitterati-strewn, paparazzi-fuelled opening of the One&Only, as Three Cape Ladies was the only red wine poured at this auspicious affair. And while the launch event boasted a guest list of stellar-studded, Hollywood A-list and haute couture fashionistas, Warwick Wine Club hosted their own celebrated A-List and rolled out the red carpet … literally. 


After guests had swanned about and sampled delectable canap├ęs, marketing guru and Managing Director, Mike Ratcliffe, welcomed guests and introduced his mother Norma who invited patrons to taste her hand-picked ‘milestone’ wines. Magnums of Trilogy circulated…Norma, the inaugural Cape Lady, played the perfect hostess…and even Professor Black mouthed a few platitudes before retiring to complete his thesis.  The room resonated warmth and evinced a surreal enchantment which permeated throughout.   


Vintages ranging from 1988-2006, of Warwick Trilogy, the Estate’s Bordeaux Blend flagship,  are available on the Hotel wine list, including an 18 litre bottle of the 2005 vintage: currently the only South African wine in the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of the World (announced at the end of 2008). The One&Only is the inaugural Hotel globally to offer a vertical selection of Warwick Cabernet Franc, personally selected by Norma Ratcliffe herself. These wines are to be accompanied by hand-written tasting notes compiled by Norma and the winemaking team at Warwick.


It was a night to remember.


September 2009.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wosa's fundi initiative on track to train 2,010 wine stewards for FIFA World Cup

The Wines of South Africa (WOSA) project to train 2,010 wine stewards around the country in time for next year's FIFA World Cup is not only well on track, says the organisation's CEO, Su Birch, but it has just been given a major boost, thanks to a R300,000 donation from the Winelands District Municipality.

Birch says a third of the candidates have already been trained in wine service a year ahead of the tournament. Drawn from the hospitality industry as well as the ranks of the unemployed, they have received training in Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth. "Now with Deputy Mayor Clarence Johnson's generous support, after last year's donation of R250,000, we can train another 150 Winelands-based stewards to bring us close to the halfway mark. This most recent donation means we can continue to give special emphasis to training in the heartland of the wine industry, where visitor expectations for good wine service will, understandably, be at their highest."The training initiative is being funded mainly through the sale of specialist red wines labelled Fundi, the isiZulu word for learner. Developed for this purpose, the wines are labelled with a bright sunflower, as a symbol of hope. Each bottle carries a beaded neck tag, produced by informal roadside beaders.Birch believes sales of Fundi wines, now on offer from Japan to Finland, are definitely benefitting from the rising football fever. "The mounting international interest in South Africa and soccer brought on by FIFA's recent Confederations Cup, has been an important catalyst."The wines are selling in the UK through the prominent Virgin Wines network as well as in Sweden, Finland, in Ontario and Quebec, and should soon be available in Germany and New York State. In Japan, national television coverage of a training session, in which people from the hospitality industry and the unemployed were shown being taught how to serve wine to visitors to South Africa's restaurants, bars, nightclubs and game lodges, has captured the imagination of viewers and this is impacting on sales."She stresses that the intention is to transfer more than basic wine knowledge through the training project. "Trainees are being equipped to serve wine with greater competence and confidence but we hope some may develop a personal interest in wine. Should they include wine in their own drinking repertoires they could, in turn expose those within their individual networks to an appreciation of wine that may contribute towards building a wine culture amongst more South Africans."She says there are also several restaurants who have reported an increase in wine sales since their staff have undergone the training."Since the training of our staff, we have seen a marked increase in sales of our speciality, limited-edition, higher-priced, connoisseur vintage wines," says the owner of the Havanna Grill in Durban, Martin Lombaard."We are encouraged that even during the present recession people are prepared to make a purchase that gives them a top-quality wine and what amounts ultimately to an investment in South Africa's wine and tourism industries. Proficient wine service is good for wine, good for tourism and good for South Africa. The project is not only creating additional work opportunities for people already employed in hospitality but is bringing in unemployed young people who are acquiring valuable skills to help them become income-earning South Africans," Birch adds.Domestically, Fundi wines are stocked by national chain Makro, as well as by Pick 'n Pay in the Western Cape, and by specialist independent wine retailers such as Caroline's Fine Wines in the Cape Town area and La Cotte in Franschhoek. A full list of stockists is featured on the recently revamped website, which also lists all candidates who have completed their wine service training. Birch says a range of companies has been supporting the project by donating their goods, such as glass bottles, corks and labeling, while other service providers reduced their costs for legal, accounting, banking, marketing and related fees.The training initiative is being run as WOSA Laduma (isiZulu for goal), a section 21 company, whose directors are Dr Paul Cluver, former chairperson of WOSA; Su Birch and Dalene Steyn, also of WOSA; Tim Rands MD of Vinimark; Joachim SA of Amorim Cork in South Africa; Michael Lutzeyer, owner of Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, and Mohammed Valli Moosa, former national Minister of Environment and Tourism Affairs.The industry was invited to submit wines for consideration in an open tender. Submissions were selected="true"="true"="true"="true"="true" in a blind tasting by members of the Cape Winemakers' Guild according to the same exacting standards applied when choosing wines for its annual auction. The wines of five producers were chosen. They are identified on the back label.

The wines are being prepped for the online SMS & TWITTER wine tasting...

More than 30 people from the wider wine industry have assembled at the
Vilafonté winery to learn about 'Social Media' & how it can be applied in
the wine industry. The afternoon is building a solid base for the
culminating event - an online, Twitter, Facebook and SMS enabled wine
tasting which will reverberate all around the world. The tasting is being
facilitated by Fred Roed from www.worldwidecreative, Jonathan Cherry from and the incredible team from - the
indominitable pioneers of cell phone marketing in South Africa. If we
achieve nothing, we will at least have some fun doing something that - we
don't think - has ever been done in South Africa before. Follow on Twitter