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Home » Industry News » Breweries & Distilleries » Veritas awards lay solid foundation for the way forward for SU

Veritas awards lay solid foundation for the way forward for SU

The several awards that the Welgevallen Cellar of Stellenbosch University (SU) won at the 33rd Veritas Awards event recently, are just the right motivation for the road ahead.

This is according to Mr Riaan Wassung, winemaker of the Welgevallen Cellar at Coetzenburg on SU’s Stellenbosch Campus.

The cellar walked away with no fewer than seven awards at the gala event held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre recently – with Die Laan Merlot (2021) and Die Laan Sauvignon Blanc (2023) each scooping double gold. The cellar also won three gold awards, a silver medal and a bronze medal.

According to Wassung, it is of significance that the cellar’s wines are measured against what the market out there has to offer and that the quality of the training and research in the field of viticulture and oenology at SU is thereby confirmed and supported.

The Sauvignon Blanc 2023 (with 93/100 points) and the Merlot 2021 (with 94/100 points) were among the top performers. It is the fourth double gold and second gold medal won by Die Laan Merlot since 2017. The double gold for the Sauvignon Blanc 2023 is a first for the cellar and originated from grapes on the Helshoogte Pass.

The Veritas Awards* started in 1991 and recognises wines and brandies of exceptional quality. The distinctive Veritas symbol of excellence serves as an authoritative quality guideline for wine and brandy connoisseurs. Gold and double gold awards are of significant value to the wine industry as well, as they provide a prestigious image for the wine, winery and winemaker, brandy and brandy masters and contribute to growth in sales.

The road ahead

According to Wassung, an exciting time lies ahead for the cellar, in partnership with the Faculty of AgriSciences. Among the innovative projects are the 16 hectares of newly established commercial vineyards on the slopes of Stellenbosch Mountain that will come into full fruition in the next few years. The vineyards are composed of specified combinations of rootstocks and clones representative of the classical cultivars including cabernet, cabernet franc, shiraz, merlot and pinotage. Over the past three years, the vineyards have been carefully established under the care of Vinpro’s technical advisors.

In 2024, the continued management of the Welgevallen vineyards and winery will be transferred to Rust en Vrede, which will enter into a long-term partnership with SU. This partnership aims to unlock the full potential of the Welgevallen vineyards, cellar, and wines.

With Die Laan wine range henceforth catering to the internal needs of the University, an exciting new range of wines bearing the Rust en Vrede endorsement will soon appear under SU’s brand to enter the consumer market across a wider front.

Prof Danie Brink, Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences, says “the excellent foundation that Riaan Wassung established as winemaker offers both him and the University the ideal opportunity to take the Welgevallen wines to new heights with the entry of Rust en Vrede.”

The continued recognition that the Welgevallen Cellar has received over the past number of years for a wide range of wines under Wassung’s hand, is an exceptional achievement. “As a small-scale cellar, it posed great challenges to Riaan and his long-time assistant, Mr William Smith, who had to take care of all operational and administrative tasks that underpin the winemaking process. Riaan also continuously encouraged the involvement of specialised small-scale winemakers from the area who have made an important contribution to innovation and the development of wines under his care.”

According to Brink, the series of Veritas Awards that the Welgevallen Cellar received for quality wines in its own right, addresses a misconception that the public sometimes has – that the “University cellar” makes experimental wines. “The role of the Welgevallen Cellar should be seen as that of a fully-fledged cellar where our viticulture and oenology students are given direct exposure to the processes associated with winemaking on a commercial scale.”

With support from the wine industry, a specialised experimental cellar has been set up in the JH Neethling Building on the central part of the campus, where winemaking students are afforded the opportunity to prepare wines on an appropriate scale.

“The Faculty is obviously very excited about the new phase being entered with the optimal development of the wine value chain from Welgevallen based on partnerships with role-players from the industry. This will not only ensure the continued development of our wines, but also contribute to improving the sustainability of our activities as well as the quality of our training and research,” Brink added.

Source: www.veritas.co.za

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