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Another Cape Wine Master graduates and Cathy van Zyl (MW) honoured by the Institute of Cape Wine Masters

13 May 2019  -  ICWM

A new Cape Wine Master has graduated and joined the ranks of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters in the year that the Cape Wine Academy (CWA) celebrates its 40th anniversary of educational service to the wine industry.

Jacqui Henderson of Iona Wines brings the number of Cape Wine Masters (CWMs) to attain this elite self-study qualification to 102.

According to chairperson of the Institute Conrad Louw, since the inception of the CWA in 1979 nearly 200 000 wine enthusiasts have attended the lectures and training programmes which were instituted as part of the Stellenbosch Farmers' Winery (SFW) Wine plan.

Henderson was awarded her certificate by Harry Melck, the recently appointed head of the CWA,at a function held at Neethlingshof Wine Estate on Friday, 10 May. (Coincidentally, Melck was also the only CWA graduate last year.)

Another Cape Wine Master Jeff Grier from Villiera presented her with the traditional sabre and trophy as the best student on Méthode Cap Classique (MCC).

Henderson's dissertation was titled ''A case for Chardonnay as a regional signature variety for Elgin’s cool climate.'' It is available in full on the websites of the CWA and the Institute of Cape Wine Masters

It explores Chardonnay as a regional signature variety for Elgin’s cool climate, using data from eight weather stations situated in Elgin, an online research platform and interviews with producers.  Findings show marked temperature variations within Elgin and ideal Chardonnay conditions.  The division of Elgin into wards is proposed.

Chardonnay producers describe a distinctive flavour and acid structure profile. Traditionally planted to apples and pears, branding Chardonnay as a signature grape variety would add value to the area as a wine producing region. The creation of a strong regional identity could providesignificant impetus in establishing Elgin as a fine wine region that produces world class Chardonnay and promoting greater profitability for winemakers.

Currently the prestigious group of Cape Wine Masters includes 13 from overseas and two of the three original Cape Wine Masters - Duimpie Bayly and Bennie Howard, who together with the late Tony Mossop, were the first to qualify in 1984. Of the total active membership of the Institute, Western Cape members comprise 62%, Gauteng 21%, with overseas members making up 17%.  The total membership profile of the CWM is 54% male and 46% female.  

In 2003, the Cape Wine and Spirit Education Trust granted the Cape Wine Academy the right to award the Cape Wine Master (CWM) qualification and confer the Cape Wine Master’s title, in collaboration with the Institute of Cape Wine Masters.

This year the Institute of Cape Wine Masters also designated internationally acclaimed wine judge Cathy van Zyl, MW, as the Wine Personality of the Year at a gala dinner held at the Longridge Wine Estate on Saturday, 11 May.

Cathy van Zyl was the third South African to be designated as a Master of Wine by the Institute of Masters of Wine in London in 2005.

This accolade marks her overall contribution to the industry through wine education, her loyal promotion of South African wines as writer for the online Grape newsletter and as associate editor of the Platter Guide, and her stature as judge on international and local wine shows.Cathy is the ex-chair of the Institute of Masters of Wine’s education committee and currently a member of its Council.



The latest Cape Wine Master graduate is Jacqui Henderson of Iona Vineyards, a former primary school teacher.

After completing an introductory course in South African wine at the Cape Wine Academy, she augmented her studies through reading books, travelling to various wine regions, attending shows and joining several tasting groups.  

Jacqui Henderson started her wine career in 2004 under the mentorship of her brother-in-law Andrew Gunn of Iona Vineyards.

During the decade that she has been involved with marketing and selling Iona wines in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal sales have increased by more than 300%.

Henderson, who originally hails from Bedford in the Eastern Cape, is the second youngest of five children, and grew up on a sheep farm which is still being farmed by her parents.

After matriculating from the Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) in 1984, she graduated from UCT with a Bachelor's degree in Primary Education in 1988 and taught at various schools in the Western Cape for 15 years.

During that time she married, had three children and tutored extra maths and music lessons, before venturing into the world of wine.

Music, travelling, cooking, and sporting activities (including mountain biking) are her main interests.