Debbie Thompson Takes Over Role of Cellar Master at Simonsig Estate

In her 20th year at Simonsig Estate in Stellenbosch, Debbie Thompson has been promoted to cellar master at this revered and pioneering third-generation winery. Thompson takes over the role of cellar master from Johan Malan under whom she has worked since joining Simonsig in 1999.

Malan will in future be Simonsig’s Director of Winemaking, leaving Thompson to lead the winemaking team of Charl Schoeman (Cap Classique and white wine) and Michael Malan, the third generation Malan in the Simonsig cellar, who takes over from Thompson as red winemaker. Thompson graduated from Stellenbosch University with a degree in oenology and worked for a brief stint at Hazendal before joining Simonsig where she has spent most of her career. 


The South African wine grape harvest 2019 has hit a record low, largely due to the preceding drought and fluctuating weather conditions during the season. Winemakers are, however, positive about the quality of this year’s vintage.

The 2019 wine grape crop is estimated at 1 225 620 tonnes, according to the latest estimate of industry body Sawis (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems) on 26 April 2019. Although only 1.4% smaller than last year, the crop has shrunk for the second consecutive year and 2019 represents a record low since 2005 when 1 171 632 tonnes were harvested. “It has been a trying year for our wine grape producers and wineries. 


The South African wine industry has entered a new phase of repositioning, consolidation and reinvestment. Climate change, shifts in production and demand and financial pressures have led to the industry becoming smaller and required producers and wineries to rethink the way they do business.

Our wine industry has gone through a tough time in the past decade. Although many of our producers and wineries are still under tremendous financial pressure, I believe as a collective, the industry is turning a new corner with renewed energy and focus,” says Rico Basson, MD of the wine industry organisation Vinpro, which represents 2 500 South African wine grape producers, wineries and wine-related businesses. 

Just a friend you do not know

Except for those who are really adventurous, many of us have some kind of fear for the unknown. And when the unknown comes across as exclusive rather than endearing, it can intimidate us even more. Wine can be like this.

For us who know wine dearly, fearing wine can be hard to fathom, so let’s turn the tables. Take the average winemaker, someone who is comfortable around wine and not in the slightest intimidated by a tasting room. Take him or her to Wall Street and enter the New York Stock Exchange. I bet most winemakers will feel slightly out of their depth. Observing is one thing, but now you want the winemaker to react, to interpret what is happening, have an opinion… I guess most of us would like to run for the hills.

The Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2019

The eighth annual Cabernet Sauvignon Report sponsored by multinational financial services company Prescient is now out.

94 entries were received from 76 producers and these were tasted blind (labels out of sight) by the three-person panel, scoring done according to the 100-point quality scale.

To read the report in full, including key findings, tasting notes for the top 10 and scores on the 100-point quality scale for all wines entered, download the following: Prescient Cabernet Sauvignon Report 2019

Simonsig Estate Harvest Report 2019

The 2019 harvest season ended in mid April, almost three months after picking commenced,and with volumes up 60 tonnes onlast year, it is described as an “an ultra-marathon” by head of production Johan Malan and cellarmaster Debbie Thompson.

One of the major influences on harvest 2019 was the preceding winter that saw 70% more rainfall than the previous year (regarded as one ofthe driest in the history of the Cape winelands). An unexpected warm spell in June 2018 saw temperatures rising to above 30°C, pushing the vineyards to uneven budding and patchy ripening as the berries gained sugar and colour. his resulted in certain varieties being picked in stages, while other grape cultivars ripened simultaneously, placing considerable pressure on the harvest and cellar-teams.


The Mulderbosch Cabernet Franc 2015 and 2016 was rated among South Africa’s top six Cabernet Francs in the recent Cabernet Franc Challenge.

Celebrated at an awards function in Franschhoek on Tuesday 16 April, Adam Mason took to the stage: “Cabernet Franc thrives on the free draining ‘koffieklip’ soils here at Mulderbosch Vineyards on the southern slopes of the Stellenbosch Kloof, 12-odd kilometres from False Bay.

Of the 2016, Mason adds: “One particular vineyard consistently impressed us, being annually the stand-out tank of red wine in the cellar. Aside from being an important component in our Faithful Hound red blend, it now also found a home as a single vineyard bottling of Cabernet Franc. We’re happy to see it pay off.”

A Toast to Mandela’s Legacy with Klein Constantia wines in Washington DC

Klein Constantia Wines to be served at 'Mandela 100 years' Gala Celebration in Washington D.C

As a proud supporter of the Mandela 100 Years campaign, Klein Constantia is delighted that its wines will be served at the Mandela 100th Celebration Gala being held at The National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington D.C. on 27 April 2019 (Freedom Day).

The gala will be the culmination of a unified campaign that kicked off in the United States on 18 July 2018, marking the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth. The campaign has seen Mandela’s four official legacy foundations collaborate to build ongoing, sustainable support for his legacy priorities: advancing equality, social justice and the well-being of children.


Klein Constantia is incredibly proud to be sponsors of the ‘Mandela 100 years’ gala dinner in Washington DC – a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Mandela’s birth & the 25th anniversary of the 1st democratic elections in South Africa.

Mandela’s legacy organizations (including the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital & Mandela Rhodes Foundation) have created a campaign to actively highlight the late great Mandela’s global contribution. From advancing equality, social justice and the wellbeing of children to inspiring support for the future.

To be held at the National Museum of African American History & Culture on the 27th of April, the evening will showcase a documentary on Madiba’s legacy.