Franschhoek Wine Valley

Grande Provence finalist in Young Winemaker of the Year

The finalists for the 19th Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year awards have been released, and Thys Smit of Grande Provence has been included in the line-up of five winemakers who will vie for this prestigious title. The winner will be announced at a black-tie gala dinner at La Residence Hotel on 23 November 2019, with the lucky recipient walking away with a prize of R25 000.

Grande Provence winemaker Thys Smit

Founded 18 years ago, the Young Winemaker of the Year award was established to encourage winemakers under the age of 30 to develop their skills, express their individuality and add to the future prestige of South African wines internationally. The awards focus on quality and recognition of excellence, and are regarded as the country’s most prestigious and well-respected wine industry competition. The competition is open to all in the South African wine industry at no cost, affording all winemakers a chance at the sought-after title. While other awards focus on just the wine, the Young Winemaker of the Year award celebrates the skills and talent of the vintners.

Thys has been part of the Grande Provence winemaking team since 2015, the year in which this Heritage Wine Estate in Franschhoek became one of the first cellars to craft a wine using imported Tuscan clay amphorae. Working with these egg-shaped, natural clay vessels from the onset has given him the edge when it comes to embracing this style of winemaking developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans thousands of years ago. Thys’ entry into winemaking as a career was equally fortuitous. As a BSc graduate in molecular biology and biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch he began his winemaking career completely by accident.

In 2014, after working three vintages at Lourensford Estate, he enrolled in a training program in the USA where he worked at Roth Estate focusing on Chardonnay and Bordeaux-style blends. Thys loves making and drinking unique and interesting wines, especially with great food  and has a particular preference for white wines, above all Chenin blanc. His favourite wine is a well-aged Bordeaux-style blend but a well-crafted, hoppy Indian Pale Ale will also hit the spot. Thys’ favourite leisure activities are reading, spending time with friends and, as a true red blooded South African, having a braai.

We are proud to have him as part of the Franschhoek Wine Valley family and wish him all of the best.

Franschhoek Wine Valley exists to:

  • Develop and implement marketing plans to profile the Franschhoek Wine Valley
  • Arrange and advertise events that support the Franschhoek Wine Valley brand image and which encourage visitors to the Valley
  • Represent the business interests of our members to the Stellenbosch Municipality
  • Aggregate the combined buying power of our members to leverage economy of scale benefits from service providers
  • Coordinate free advisory services and discussion forums to support our member’s businesses

Our Accolades

  • TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2020 - Top 25 Emerging Worldwide Destinations (15th position).
  • Tripadvisor Traveller's Choice Destination Winner 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015
  • Most Memorable Wine Route 2014, 2013 & 2012
  • Service Excellence Award - 2015
  • Best Tourism Event 2015 - Franschhoek Bastille Festival
  • Best Local Tourism Authority Information service 2013 & 2012

Tourism Levy

Certain establishments in Franschhoek may levy visitors with voluntary contributions towards the running of the FWV and to support local charities. Should visitors not wish to contribute to these causes, please indicate this to the relevant merchant.


Maintenance & validity of all business operating permits, licences and registration certificates are the responsibility of the business owner. Franschhoek Wine Valley takes no responsibility for the renewal of the required legal business operating documentation.


Contact Us

Franschhoek Wine Valley

Physical Address
62 Huguenot Road

Office hours
Monday: 09h00 – 12h00
Tuesday to Friday: 09h00 – 16h00
Saturday: 09h00 – 13h00
Sunday: closed

Contact Details
+27(0) 21 876 2861