Vitis Vinifera Awards

A wine competition driven by the consumer


The Vitis Vinifera Awards recognise quality wines and grape derived spirits available to the majority of consumers. Most other competitions focus on aspirational products in the ultra-premium segment of the market, perpetuating the perception that good products are out of reach of the average consumer. This in turn leads to the misconception that appreciating wine and grape based spirits is an elitist matter, reserved for a small group of connoisseurs who are able to describe subtle flavours in obscure language.


South Africa produces fine wines and grape derived spirits across a range of taste spectra and price points. With the Vitis Vinifera Awards we aim to commend wines and grape derived spirits of quality that are available to consumers on more shelves across the globe, and confer awards on superior products across price categories.


Wines are tasted blind by a group of consumers.

Red wine flights will alternate white wine flights where possible in order to prevent tannin build-up. No more than 10 products of a particular class will be tasted consecutively to prevent flavour saturation.


Judging Methodology

All panellists will be lovers of grape derived products such as wines and spirits. These are the exact members of the public who will spend their time and money in the Winelands whenever they can, and spend it most often on wine and grape derived spirits

Qualified Consumers

Panels will be comprised of qualified consumers who possess at least a Cape Wine Academy certificate, or a similar qualification.

Gender and Age Equity

We are sensitive to gender and age equity in our judging roster and try to staff each panel with judges who have professional diversity and experience. 

Three Judge Minimum

And each flight is also designed to ideally have 10 wines of the same class

Judges may ask for a new bottle to be poured if they believe a product to be faulty or corked. A product will be disqualified if the second bottle is also found to be faulty or corked. Entries will be judged in the category they have been entered into. Entries will be judged randomly but in order of vintage. The panel chair will assign a different tasting order to each judge (e.g. from low numbers to high or vice versa) in order to minimise the shadow effect within a flight.

 Tasters will judge each product on an overall basis. Products will be presented to judges in numbered glasses. No sample bottles will be visible to judges at any time. The judges will have no knowledge of the identity of the products, except for the minimum information needed to score. Staff members will be instructed to avoid discussing any brand names entered into the competition.

This process of judging is referred to as double blind and uses concepts found in Wines: Their Sensory Evaluation by Amerine and Roessler (1983), and aims to avoid some problems often associated with blind tasting. The pouring area will be totally off-limits to the judges.

Red wine flights will alternate white wine flights where possible in order to prevent tannin build-up. No more than 10 products of a particular class will be tasted consecutively to prevent flavour saturation.

There will be morning and afternoon tasting sessions where necessary.

Flights are structured so no panellist has to judge only one type of product during the tasting event. Panels will typically be expected to judge about 90 products per day, rarely more. There will be a 20-minute mid-morning break given to the judges where tea, coffee and sandwiches will be provided.

Alternating Red / White Wine Flights

In order to prevent tannin build-up.

Maximum of 10 Wines per Class Tasted Consecutively

In order to prevent flavour saturation.

Morning and Afternoon Tasting Sessions

To ensure an even spread of tasting opportunities.

The Stickers

Wines will be awarded Gold and Double Gold.

Benefits of Vitis Vinifera

Specialist wine shops or top-end restaurants employ sommeliers or wine experts, but there are many wine outlets and eateries where consumers have no access to expert advice on the quality of wine that is in the bottle – we aim to remedy this.

Wine Producer
  • Give your brand kudos, pride and bragging rights;
  • Add tasting room talking points;
  • Generate buzz and make your product stand out in the crowd;
  • Awards simply helps you sell more.
Wine Consumer
  • Better catered for when choosing wine off the shelf
  • Increased assurance that wine purchased will be good
  • Time-saving method for choosing wine

There will be no silver or bronze awards, because these are largely considered irrelevant. Many producers enter wines they are confident about in competitions, and are then disappointed in the very limited number of top-scoring wines awarded Gold or Double Gold.

Often, producers will not display bronze or even silver stickers won in a competition. Vitis Vinifera Awards will not on principle limit the number of wines that can achieve Gold or Double Gold status.


Frequently asked questions (FAQs) and other helpful information

Contact Us

E-mail us:

Sanet van Heerden ( Tel 084 446 0412 — General Competition Enquiries And Administration

Or use the form below:

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Directions once at Nietvoorbij, Stellenbosch

When you enter the main gate at Nietvoorbij, go through the security boom and drive up the road all the way until you reach the white walls at the top. You then turn left towards the Experimental Cellar and drive past the stairs on the right. Keep driving around the building, and to the right you will see the entrance to the back door of the cellar where the wine must be delivered.

Michelle’s contact details are ,  082 773 0738.

The address for the purpose of courier services is:

Nietvoorbij Experimental Cellar, Nietvoorbij, Klapmuts Road (R44), Stellenbosch; Attention: Michelle.