South African wineries rub shoulders with other international wine estates, in inaugural 2019 Best Vineyard in the World Awards!

It was a Google search on Mendoza Winery Zuccardi through which I discovered a brand new Winery Award, the World’s Best Vineyards 2019, presented by the same publisher William Reed Business Media as the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, which I have been using to eat my way through South American countries. The Zuccardi winery in Uco Valley in Mendoza in Argentina was named the Best Vineyard in the World in the inaugural ranking of a Top 50 List.  I was delighted to see that a number of our country’s Wineries feature on the list too.

Zuccardi Piedra Infinita in Mendoza Uco Valley Best restaurant in Argentina!

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants ranking has been running for about 17 years, and is managed by a British magazine publishing company. It has built up an incredible reputation in this time, having created the most desired restaurant award system for chefs and their restaurants. Given my knowledge of these Restaurant Awards, the website for the new World’s Best Vineyards Awards is disappointing, reflecting to me that the publisher is out of its depth in the wine industry: 

#  the name is misleading, as a Vineyard is the space/land in which the grapes are grown, and linked to that, the grapes are not all grown where the cellar, the restaurant, and other facilities of the winery are located. This new Award ‘went beyond the wines and looked at the whole experience. The restaurant, tour, ambiance, staff, the view, the price, reputation, accessibility, everything that makes a vineyard visit a valuable and rewarding experience for visitors’. Few visitors to a wine estate have access to a vineyard when visiting a wine estate. 

#  the weighting of the variables in creating the ranking is not explained

#   The wine estate location is not identified in the listing, making it tedious to Google all of those that one does not know, or to open each link. 

#   The judges’ credentials, as well as region they are responsible for, are not identified. 

Details are provided about how the list was compiled, using a panel of 500 wine aficionados,  sommeliers, wine trade, and luxury travel correspondents. I have a problem with the inclusion of the writers, many of these doing stories from media releases. I am also missing a wine knowledgable consumer vote for the ranking generation, as is used in the publisher’s Restaurant Awards, as well as input from the peers of winemakers. 

This is what the website states about the Vineyard Awards selection methodology: 

The World’s Best Vineyards Academy is the mechanism used to create The World’s Best Vineyards list.  The Academy comprises nearly 500 leading wine aficionados, sommeliers, and luxury travel correspondents from across the globe. Each has been selected for their expert opinion of the international wine and wine tourism scene. To create the Academy, and give it a fair representation of the global wine scene, we divide the world into geographical regions.

In each region we appointed an acknowledged expert as the Academy Chair. They were responsible for recruiting 36 individuals (a balanced mix of wine aficionados, sommeliers, wine trade, luxury travel correspondents and anyone whose regular hobby and passion is visiting wine regions) to nominate their seven top vineyard experiences. The voters could nominate up to 3 vineyards inside their voting region and at least 4 from outside their voting region.

There were no preset list of requirements but the Academy went beyond the wines and looked at the whole experience. The restaurant, tour, ambiance, staff, the view, the price, reputation, accessibility, everything that makes a vineyard visit a valuable and rewarding experience for visitors’.

Area judges are the following: María Laura Ortiz, Richard Owens, Wilhelm Klinger, Ted Kalaboukis, Guillermo Crespo, Rob Geddes MW, Lotte Karokina Gabrovits, Irina Sofranova, Magandeep Singh, Chiapas Giorleo, Kenichi Ohashi MW, Nicolas Angelina, Peter McCombie MW, Claudio Melo, Tatiana Mann, Patricia Mateo, and Peter McAtamney.

South African wineries in the Top 50 World’s Best Vineyards are highest ranked Vergelegen (34th Best), Delaire Graff (39th Best), and Creation Wines (45th Best). Congratulations to our top wineries.


The World’s Best Vineyards are ranked as follows:

1. Zuccardi Valle de Uco (Argentina) *Best in South America*
2. Bodega Garzón (Uruguay)
3. R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, S.A. (Spain) *Best in Europe*
4. Quinta do Crasto (Portugal)
5. Catena Zapata (Argentina)
=6. Montes (Chile)
=6. Clos Apalta Winery (Chile)
8. Rippon (New Zealand) *Best in Australasia*
10. Weingut Dr. Loosen (Germany)
11. Craggy Range (New Zealand)
12. Robert Mondavi Winery (California) *Best in North America*
13. Penfolds Magill Estate (Australia)
14. Viña VIK (Chile)
15. Weingut Tement (Austria)
17. Viña Errázuriz (Chile)
=19. Opus One Winery (California)
=19. Domäne Wachau eGen (Austria)


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein


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