With the plethora of wine competitions in South Africa and around the world, the validity of a wine contest is often questioned. Is it not a case of too much, with a winning wine scarcely having had time to wear its gold medal before the next competition with a totally new set of criteria rolls around.

We think not. Competitions are important for wineries and Orange River Cellars remains a keen entrant. Why? Well, on the one hand it gives our winemakers a chance to see how their wines shape-up when placed before a panel of judges alongside wines from other producers and other areas. The results serve as an indication as to whether they are on the right track and rewards their efforts.

And do not for one moment think that the wine-buying public do not regard competition results in a serious light. Ask any retailer and they will tell you that a gold sticker on a bottle assists in moving that bottle from the shelf.

The sterling work of our winemakers and Orange River Cellars’ team of viticulturalists has over the past few years seen our winery winning more accolades than ever. We are immensely proud of this for the reasons given above, but also because these medals underscore the fact that this wine region has arrived and is ready to take-up its place as a leading South African wine region.

Some of this year’s awards:

Best Value Awards: The Orange River Colombard 2013, made from one of the Northern Cape’s signature grape varieties, was selected among the superior list of 22 Merit Awards. The Red Muscadel 2012 and White Jerepiko NV achieved Four Stars, while eight other wines made it into the Best Value Guide: White Muskadel 2012, Sweet Hanepoot NV, Cape Ruby 2012, Red Jerepiko NV, Natural Sweet Rosé 2013, Nouveau Natural  Sweet 2013, Brut Sparkling 2013 and Sparkling Rosé 2013.

2013 Muscadel SA awards: Wecelebrated two top achievements at the 11th Muscadel SA awards held in Paarl. Of the 26 entrants, Orange River Cellars’ Red Muscadel 2012 was the only wine to be awarded a Platinum award at this year’s competition, while the White Muscadel 2012 was awarded Gold.

Muscats du Monde: This was the big one: Orange River Cellars White Muscadel 2012 judged as one of the Top 10 Muscat wines in the world at the Muscat du Monde in France, the world’s foremost competition for Muscat wines.

According to Koos Visser, Orange River Cellars marketing manager, these competitions encapsulated the wineries’ ethos.

“As a wine producer, our aim is twofold,” he says. “First, we are committed to making a diverse range of wines that express the uniqueness of our wine region along the banks of the Orange River in the Upington region. A totally unique terroir – over 800km from the traditional Cape winelands – allows us to offer a special taste of place in our products. The second goal is to over deliver in terms of quality by giving the customer a better wine than he or she pays for. These awards most definitely indicate that we are on the right track and the wine industry can be prepared for still greater things from the Orange River.”

Visser says that the dramatic increase in quality in the Orange River wines can be placed at the door of the wineries 970 member producers who are committed to producing quality grapes, as well as the sterling work done by the viticulturalists and wine-makers.

“This threeway-partnership has helped the region towards reaching its full potential as a major wine producer, and we sincerely believe the best is yet to come.”

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