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Leigh Berrie, Catherine Dillon, and Mary-Lou Nash - the three new Cape Wines Masters who graduated this year.
Leigh Berrie, Catherine Dillon, and Mary-Lou Nash - the three new Cape Wines Masters who graduated this year.

Cape wine masters graduate


May 9th 2011, 15:03

Three new graduates have been awarded Diplomas as Cape Wine Masters at a ceremony being hosted by Lourensford Estate in Somerset West on Friday, May 6. 

This marks the 27th anniversary since the first South African CWMs qualified (in 1984) and brings the number of successful candidates to 78, and the Institute membership to 71 (including three honorary members).

The graduates are Leigh Berrie, Catherine Dillon and Mary-Lou Nash.

Nash was also designated the winner of the Van Ryn's Trophy for Brandy Excellence represented by Van Ryn Brand manager Shelley Ellse, while Dillon won the newly instituted Viniculture Award from La Motte Estate, represented by Hein Koegelenberg. Berrie won the Villiera Sabrage Award presented by Jeff Grier of Villiera as well as the Viticulture Award sponsored by Kosie Steenkamp of Groenkloof.

The Institute of Cape Wine Masters also presented their Wine Personality of the Year Award at a gala dinner in the Old Vat Cellar at Delheim on Saturday, 7 May, 2011 to industry legend Spatz Sperling owner of Delheim. Spatz celebrates 60 years of wine making in South Africa this year and has been one of the stalwarts of the Wine Industry. His passion and dedication to wine and the way he has trained many very successful winemakers over the decades has now been recognised.
This year dissertations covered topics such as Genetically Modified Organisms in the Wine Industry, Garage Winemaking in South Africa: Less is More, and Waste Management in the Wine Industry.

Leigh Berrie is a medical scientist specialising in Molecular Virology, and currently employed at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. Her dissertation topic – “Genetically Modified Organisms in the Wine Industry” – reflects her occupational interest and her passion for wine.
While studying for her doctorate at the University of Cape Town in 1998, she joined the UCT wine tasting society. On her return to Johannesburg in 2002, she enrolled in the Certificate course with the Cape Wine Academy. In 2004 she began the Diploma course, followed by the Cape Wine Masters’ course in 2006. She is an active member of the Wild Yeasts Tasting Club in Johannesburg.
Dissertation: Genetically Modified Organisms in the Wine Industry
Mary-Lou Nash is the co-owner, winemaker, viticulturist, tractor driver and marketer at Black Pearl Wines.
She received a Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, with a major in Anthropology from the University of New Hampshire (USA) in 1989, and then taught English in Japan for two years before going on a three-year world tour. When she joined her father in 1995 on his newly acquired property in South Africa, Rhenosterkop Farm in Agter Paarl, she settled down and started a family.
Then in 1998 Black Pearl Wines developed after Mary-Lou planted 4.5 hectares of Shiraz in 1997 and 3 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon. A boutique cellar was established in 2001.
Her aim was to produce a limited edition, terroir-driven wine that is drinkable now but with bottle maturation potential. Currently Disneyland is scooping up a large percentage of the few thousand cases produced to serve as wine by the glass in all its white tablecloth restaurants!
Dissertation: Garage Winemaking in South Africa: Less is more

Catherine Dillon was born and raised in Cape Town and completed a BA degree at Stellenbosch University, followed by a teaching diploma at UCT. After a teaching stint at Springfield Convent, she headed overseas, travelling extensively, also teaching in London before returning to Cape Town in 1997.
Deciding that wine knowledge was an imperative for setting up a tourism business she started her first wine course at CWA and also completed a garagiste course at the University of Stellenbosch in 2006.
During the next courses leading to the CWM, she focused her business on wine-specific tours, dealing with knowledgeable clients, journalists, wine clubs and winemakers from all over the world.
She believes that sound training and education of tourist guides, restaurant and front of house staff is essential for the further development of wine tourism. She lectures for the CWA on all levels and loves combining her three life passions of education, wine and people.

She worked at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2008 and 2009, both as a wine warehouse assistant and Team Leader during judging week – and ranks as memorable experiences meeting internationally renowned wine judges and tasting world class wines such as the Charles Heidseick 1979 Champagne and Royal Tokaji Essencia 2000.
Future travel plans include visiting Slovenia as tour leader for a wine interest group, Washington State on business, and Italy for some good wine and fun!
Dissertation: Waste Management in the Wine Industry

All dissertations are available for perusal on the Cape Wine Academy website and at the SAWIS library.

At the AGM of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters, Andy Roediger was elected the new chairperson of the Institute. He takes over the reins from Bennie Howard whose three-year term has come to an end.

In 2003 the Cape Wine and Spirit Education Trust granted the Cape Wine Academy the right to award the Cape Wine Master (CWM) qualification and confer the Cape Wine Master’s title, in collaboration with the Institute of Cape Wine Masters. The qualification was first instituted in 1984 and the first three CWMs were Duimpie Bayly, Bennie Howard and the late Tony Mossop.

Over the last 27 years some 193 candidates have enrolled, of whom 78 (39 men and 39 women) have qualified and 22 are at present studying to become CWMs.

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