And the Pon van Zyl award goes to....
By Beatrix Galloway
The Pon van Zyl trophy has a rich history and also handed over at this prestige awards ceremony. In 1941, Giepie Rossouw and Alwyn Bruwer convinced a number of other Robertson Valley growers to form a winery in which all families would own a share. Pon van Zyl served as Robertson Winery’s first winemaker and took Robertson from its humble beginnings to being to where it is today. The inaugural Pon van Zyl trophy was handed to Danie de Wet in 1987. Since then numerous important and esteemed role players in the Robertson region have been awarded this trophy for the outstanding service to the Robertson region. Every year at the Robertson Young Wine Show ceremony, the Pon van Zyl trophy is given to someone who, according to the committee that comprises of all of the previous winners, have made a positive contribution to the Robertson Wine Valley's wine industry.
This year, it was given to Pieter Ferreira from Graham Beck, who has tirelessly ‘pioneered’ to establish the Robertson region as one of South Africa’s leading Cap Classique wine regions. Pieter joined the Graham Beck family in 1990 from Clos Cabriere in Franschhoek to fulfill the vision of the late, Graham Beck – To produce South Africa’s leading Cap Classique and also establish it as uniquely world class product. Their maiden vintage at Graham Beck was in 1991. Pieter was instrumental to proof that a warmer region can be the best kept secret for Cap Classique in South Africa. “Our secret weapons are our rich limestone soils and sunshine” says Pieter. He believes that if you manage the sunshine you will produce the highest quality of base wine for Cap Classique. Together with the huge diurnal shift in temperature between day and night “we preserve the natural acidity in the grape that provides the brightness in our Cap Classique”. Today the Robertson region has 11 Cap Classique producers and has become the most important hub for purchasing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from other producers from other geographical areas. “Very interesting indeed” says Pieter.
Over the years Graham Beck has been awarded many awards and accolades. In 1994 their Cap Classique was used at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela and also in 2008 it was used by President elect, Barack Obama. In 2004 Pieter won the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year for Graham Beck’s Blanc de Blancs 1999.
Pieter is currently chairman of the Cap Classique Producers’ Association and has been instrumental in growing the awareness for this ever-growing category and help in ‘fine-tuning’ the minimum standards for Cap Classique. There are exciting developments coming in the next couple of years.
Pieter is honoured and very proud to receive the Pon van Zyl trophy and he says “I remain on an extraordinary journey of discovery… In pursuit of the perfect bubble”