4 April 2005

Our Principal Derek KOCH meets with Cape Wine Master, Peter Gebler in the mountains of Germany to sign an agreement whereby Peter Gebler is appointed as the Operations Director, Germany for the South African Wine Academy and its parent the European Academy. Peter and Derek had been busy for a number of years doing the basic preparations for what eventually developed into this wine College. Peter has a long and distinguished career in the educational and business side of the wine industry, both in Germany and South Africa. He currently lives on the banks of the Rhine (where he will hopefully also complete his Master of Wines studies!) and teaches at the German Wine School. Peter also imports wines, mainly from the New World.



17 April 2005


Living in far-off Sydney in Australia has not diminished dynamic Sue van Wyk�s passion for wine. This Cape Wine Master still regularly travels to various wine seminars and wine competitions where she sits as a senior judge. It was during the last 2 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles that Sue met with Derek KOCH and decided to join forces in setting up this new, different type of wine education facility. She is a highly respected wine educator (in fact she was responsible for the drafting of some of the lessons and courses of the Cape Wine Academy) and is internationally known for her wine knowledge and experience.

She lives in Sydney where she does wine education and wine consultancy and is now the Operations Director, Australasia, of our small family of Wine Academies.



15 May - SA's smaller wineries deep in debt
SA's smaller wineries have on average a long-term debt-to-equity ratio of 96%, against 65% for their counterparts in Australia, it emerged from the first Deloitte annual benchmarking study of the wine industry.
Local wineries use high levels of debt to fund the long stretch of time between turning their stock of wine into cash. Deloitte surveyed about 25 wineries, which it segmented into smaller cellars earning less than R25m a year and larger cellars earning R25m to R90m.

Deloitte's conclusion echoes a similar finding by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers in a study released last November. PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the own capital on producer cellars� balance sheets was only on average 22% of their total finance requirements. The remaining 78% of capital was derived from external sources, mainly effectively interest-free loans from producers themselves. This financing structure did not equip producer cellars to face the challenges ahead, PricewaterhouseCoopers warned.

Deloitte audit partner Michael van Wyk said on Friday that the firm's study showed the debt burden was weighing heavily on wine farmers. Many wine farms established in the 1990s and early 2000s were forecasting cash flows based on an exchange rate of R15-R20 to sterling. Currently the exchange rate is at about R11,70 against sterling.

Although interest rates are now lower than they were in the late 1990s, wineries still need to sell wine profitably to service their interest and capital repayments. Small and large South African wineries sell a far greater proportion of their wine on average on the export market than their Australian counterparts, increasing their exposure to currency fluctuations. A number of South African wineries are posting losses, the study showed. More than a third of smaller wineries are showing a loss, compared with a quarter of the larger wineries. Larger wineries are more profitable due to economies of scale they can achieve.



16 May 2005

Following a trek of meetings held in Belgium, Vienna and then Brussels, followed by a final meeting in London, our Principal convinced Frank Smulders MW to become the President of our College, as well as its parent, the European Academy.


This well-travelled and experienced Master of Wine is the only MW of the Netherlands, and any one who knows the wine industry will agree that you will have to go far to find a more professional, yet honourable wine person. Frank has been teaching for many years, at the highest levels, inter alia, the WSET courses, all over Europe: Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the UK and the Scandinavian countries. On top of this he is an acknowledged world expert on Spain and spent many years in the wine wholesale and retail worlds. Recently Frank has also been consulting to the major players in the wine industry.


Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2005  

08 April 2005  


Three South African wines have been awarded Grand Gold medals at the 12th edition of the annual Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. The results were announced earlier this week in Brussels, Belgium. This is the first time that more than one Grand Gold medal has come South Africa's way in this prestigious wine contest judged by 192 professional wine judges from 43 countries. Sue van Wyk CWM reports.
Boland Kelder Pinotage 2002, Asara Merlot 2000 and Linton Park Merlot 2001 are in the company of 41 other wines to have been honoured as the best in the contest.

Countries achieving a greater or equal number of these sought after Grand Gold medals are Italy 13 (from 439 entries); France 8 (from 1718 entries); Spain 6 (from 676 entries) ; Chile 3 (from 233 entries) and Portugal 3 (from 253 entries).

In addition, 20 other Cape wines earned Gold medals and a further 41 wines have been awarded Silver medals; a total clutch of 64 medals. To put this into perspective, it should be borne in mind that South Africa achieved this extraordinary result from a mere 142 entries. To summarise: 45% of Cape wines entered, earned a medal. This is even more remarkable when one considers that a maximum of 30% of all wines entered may be awarded a medal. This achievement must be hailed as one of our finest in any international wine contest and should bring further recognition from abroad for our best wines.



17 May 2005 dateline: London Wine Fair !!

Launch, launch, launch! No, not the launching of 2 torpedoes from a WWII submarine but the launch of the European Wine Academy which was today officially launched by its Principal, Derek Koch, at the stand of Harpers Wine magazine, during the annual London International Wine Fair. Derek and Harpers� Sales Manager, Tommy Eatenton (himself the holder of the WSET Diploma!) were celebrating the simultaneous launch of the new Harpers web site, and discussed the possibilities of Harpers helping to further the aims of wine e-learning. An unexpected but extremely welcome visitor was Sir Cliff Richard who was there to open the Harpers web site and introduce his range of wines from Portugal: Vina Vida.




20 May - The search is on for SA's �Woman Winemaker of the Year 2005�

The rationale for this competition has been from the beginning to encourage women who would like to create a career for themselves in the wine industry, and also to give recognition to those women who are already established and producing wine. The competition furthermore aims to create a platform for women wine makers to highlight the special qualities which a woman brings to the age-old art of wine making.
Furthermore, the award endeavours to encourage healthy competition among women wine makers and in so doing bring to the industry innovative new ideas and approaches to wine making.

Last year�s winner: Ivy Du Toit of Jason�s Hill






Rustenberg scoops IWSC Chardonnay Trophy for 2nd year  
08 August 2005    
Rustenberg has cause to celebrate!

At the recent 2005 International Wine & Spirit Competition, the Mission Hill Family Estate Chardonnay Trophy went to the 2003 Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chardonnay. This is a repeat of the farm's success last year, when their Five Soldiers Chardonnay took the same award. According to wine writer and judge Dave Hughes, Rustenberg is the first wine producer ever to scoop the award in two consecutive years.



August 2005

There have been quite a few newsworthy news items from the Cape these past weeks:

          Firstly, and contrary to popular opinion, especially in Australia, there is some serious evidence that Syrah (shiraz) was already planted at the Cape in 1772. A German scientist, George Foster, who had visited the Cape stated in 1772 that some of the vineyards at Constantia were planted with grapes from Shiraz in Persia. In other words, not via France, but directly from Persia! In any event the book : �Groot Constantia 1685 - 1885: Its Owners and Occupants� by M.P.S. van der Merwe, confirms that JP de Waal, the then manager of Groot Constantia, planted Shiraz there in 1899. There are bottles of the 1956 vintage in Groot Constantia�s archive cellars. This makes me wonder, if one considers that many of the original grape cuttings that went to Australia, were from the Cape, might the origin of the famous Australian Shiraz grapes not  be SA !?

          De Wetshof will be bottling some of their Rieslings with the new glass �corks� !

          A new initiative in Worcester sees the first wine bottles in Braille! Consol, the glass manufacturer, the Worcester Wine Association and the Worcester Blind Society worked together to produce this world first. In the first phase 400 000 bottles will be manufactured and it will be introduced to the public with a �blind � tasting next month.




20 Aug - launch of Professional courses

We launch a new series of professional and business wine courses in conjunction with the European Wine Academy. These include Certificate courses for wine professionals in the Wine Hospitality, Tourism and Retail sectors, as well as a Certificate on being a Wine Entrepreneur!

As 2 year courses we�ve introduced the Associate Degree in Wine Marketing, the Associate Degree in Wine Management and an Associate Degree in Oenology. These courses are naturally adapted to blend in with the South African wine world wherever possible or relevant.



17 October 2005 granted the ISO 9001-2000 Quality Certificate

Following many months of preparation, of systems analysis and evaluations and eventually an exhaustive internal and external audit we were awarded the ISO 9001 Certificate as regards the systems used by the College.

8 November 2005 granted membership of the Association of British Correspondence Colleges
The Association of British Correspondence Colleges is one of the oldest of its kind and is a voluntary Association of Colleges complying with a Code of Ethics which guarantees high standards of service and integrity. Enrolling with an ABCC College ensures peace of mind. Members of The Association of British Correspondence Colleges pledge themselves to maintain the highest standard of integrity in all their dealings. 

9 December 2005

Today we became a member of the European Distance and e-Learning Network (EDEN) which functions as a pan-European information network and meeting for the Open, Distance & E-Learning community in Europe.


23 December 2005 - European Association of Distance Learning
Following almost a year of investigations we were informed today by the EADL ( ) that we now meet the strict requirements for membership !
The EADL is the European association of schools, institutions and individuals working in correspondence and distance education. With members from over 15 European countries, the Association is a representative forum for the exchange of information and ideas on current practice and developments in the expanding field of distance learning.
Nearly all member states of the European Community are represented in the EADL. But the EADL also has members in Norway, Russia, Switzerland and Turkey. With 4,000 different courses the members of the EADL work with more than one million students all over Europe.


Still no port or sherry, but �tawny� okay  
Siseko Njobeni Posted to the web on: 15 March 2006


THE European Union (EU) has agreed to recognise the descriptions �ruby�, �tawny� and �vintage� on labels of South African fortified wines exported to that market, the European Commission delegation to SA said yesterday.

The EU would recognise the use of the terms provided they were used with the name �Cape� to indicate their South African origin, said Frank Oberholzer, spokesman for the EU delegation in SA.

SA is already prevented from using the terms �port� and �sherry� to describe these wines because of European complaints that they refer to specific locations and should not be used for wines from other countries.

Following an apparent about-turn, the EU will, from this month, allow local wine producers to use the terms to describe their exports to Europe. The 25-nation EU is the biggest export destination for South African wine. The UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Finland alone accounted for 83% of SA�s wine exports in 2004, says lobby group Wines of SA.

The decision was likely to put to an end to the long-standing squabble over the labelling of South African wine exports to Europe, said Western Cape-based trade analyst Hilton Zunckel. He said the issue first surfaced in 1999, when SA and the EU were thrashing out details of a trade development and co-operation agreement, the pact that has strengthened SA-EU trade relations.

He said that, as a compromise, SA negotiators had decided to use the terms �ruby�, �tawny� and �vintage� but the EU also initially objected to these, saying they were traditional terms used in certain parts of Europe.

�The EU�s objection was unreasonable. How can they say ruby, for instance, is a traditional term when it is a colour?� Zunckel said.

At the time of its objection to these terms, the EU said the terms deserved protection to prevent consumers in the EU being misled.

Zunckel disagreed.

�It was never about consumers being misled. It was just a move to keep South African wines out of the European market. Their decision to accept these names is the only logical conclusion to the matter.�

"The quality of what you've learnt, and whether you eventually make that knowledge your own, matters far more than how, from whom, when or where you learnt it!"