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Franschhoek Literary Festival

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2014 SA Wine Writers Awards Winners Announced

The Franschhoek Wine Valley and the Franschhoek Literary Festival are delighted to announce the winners of the two categories for the 2014 FWV SA Wine Writers’ Awards.

The judging panel was comprised of:

  • CapeTalk broadcaster, literary critic and wine enthusiast, John Maytham
  • Chef and author of six bestselling cookbooks, teacher of French Brasserie Luxe cooking and a wine-and-food pairing consultant, Marlene van der Westhuizen, and
  • British wine columnist for The Independent, and contributor to Decanter, The World of Fine Wine, Revue du Vin de France, China and Shanghai Daily, Anthony Rose

The comments below, supplied by Anthony Rose, sum up the discussion and decisions of the panel.

The winner of the long form category, for his piece titled From O’Keefe to Lismore and back, in high heels, published on the digital magazine website in October 2013, is Jacques van Zyl.

Comment: This is perhaps the most elegiac of all the pieces and is beautifully written and constructed. It draws you in and drills down to the wine itself with its very personal description of the winemaker and its beautiful evocation of the wine. There’s a moving voice here that combines personality, subjective and objective, and wine into one seamless whole.

Tim James took the honours in the short form category for six blog posts on, posted between April 2013 and January 2014.

Comment: We like the scope of this entry and the good humour and compassion behind the writing style which is easy and unpretentious, all the time dwelling on the things that matter in wine, i.e the wine itself. Championing pinotage, a controversial subject, is done well. In its quiet way, for the wine values it espouses, this is a powerful voice.

Of the two winners, the entry that received the unanimous vote of all the judges in its category was that of Jacques van Zyl, and thus he will receive in addition to his cash prize, an original artwork selected by the Franschhoek Wine Valley, under whose auspices the Wine Writers’ Prizes falls.

The entries were judged without the names of the writers attached, and the judging panel considered the following criteria in making their decisions:

  • Excellent, well-informed writing of literary quality
  • Technical accuracy
  • Fresh perspectives and insights
  • Good storytelling
  • In the case of the short-form entries, consistent excellence throughout the year

The cash prizes the 2014 Wine Writers’ Awards were presented by the CEO of the Franschhoek Wine Valley, Jenny Prinsloo, at a special event on Friday 16 May 2014.


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