While the SAWi Awards function was yet again a showpiece of the best of the best and another occasion to acknowledge excellence in the winemaker’s craft, there was much more than only the message to carry forward. The SAWi Algorithm of Excellence is indeed a watershed introduction to the industry in the quest to track excellence in wine making.

It focuses on wines that stood the test of time, coming from:
– a year on year consistent performance of the highest
caliber; reaching multi-year point scores of 95+ (Platinum
accolade) and 94/93 (Grand gold accolade);
– partaking amongst the world’s best on the foremost
international stages; any of 84 wine competitions, backed
up by reputable wine reviews;
– taking honours wherever top wines compete; implying ‘best
on show, trophy recipients etc.

In comparison, we all know that naturally occurring diamonds are quite ordinary at first glance, and that their true beauty as jewels is only realized through the cutting and polishing process; somehow, also just like the effort of a bee in making honey! Iconic wines are similarly the result of enormous efforts by winemakers persisting year on year to produce beautiful wines.

One may even say that the SAWi Algorithm of Excellence delves deep between the roots to find such vineyard jewels. Just imagine in applying their craft, what dedication it took for these winemakers, year-on-year, working with elements of nature, to achieve such iconic status, relying as much on inner-craft as on the joy which the end product could bring to others. In achievement, the work of the winemaker is probably like no other business on earth.

A further part of the message, and just as important for the industry, pertains to observing the focused relationship, almost a comradeship, starting to evolve between these top wineries. This involves more than mere back slapping within the industry, and points to increased unity. This depends on doing things differently than in the past in an effort to bring about more collaboration and leveraging of relationships outside the industry to spread the word.

Therefore, it is indeed the pursuit of excellence that is the catalyst for progress and development; and the driving force behind the betterment of the human condition. Thus, the message here is that the only way to create perpetual value in the wine industry is by achieving excellence in crafting beautiful wines and sharing the experience in doing so.

However, wine is much more than only a joyously delicious and sensual pleasure. With top wines, it is possible to create a frame of reference for foreigners who can relate to South Africa’s precious metals, luxurious safaris and sumptuous food as luxuries already linked to SA. It also relates a heritage ‘story of a beautiful place’. In other words, while the winning wines provide a signpost and benchmark for the best, people have to start embracing these themselves in the concept of ‘le patrimoinè’, representing the better aspects of our heritage. That is the third part of the message.

Wines that are simply sublime, formidable, grandiose, majestic and noble should be exalted and talked about whatever the occasion. The world needs to hear this story and we can all start to talk about these top wines on every occasion. This is not about sifting bantams here. Does the wine enthusiast grasp it all? How do we go about telling others about our achievements? We simply need to talk the talk together.

SAWi provides a platform and showcase of what winemakers here can achieve through a system that is more objective and credible. Not in the same way in which some are going around announcing so called ‘‘first growths’, or ‘top 20 lists’ that are completely subjective and mostly for commercial purposes; at most Coca-Cola efforts, which are never game changers.