Franschhoek Wine Valley

Tim James Wins Annual SA Wine Writers’ Prize

Cape wine master Tim James was again announced on Friday evening as the winner of the 3rd Annual South African Wine Writers Prize.

James was also the winner last year. The award was presented by author Christopher Hope and Jenny Prinsloo (CEO, Franschhoek Wine Valley) at a function hosted by Franschhoek Wine Valley, in association with the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

The article that won him the R25 000 cash prize and an artwork by Dylan Lewis, was entitled “The ghost grape and other mysteries of Constantia”, published in The World of Fine Wine, Issue 29, 2010. It was also published on

Joanne Gibson’s entry Holy Cow!, published in the August 2010 edition of Wine Magazine, was highly commended by the judges. Gibson was present to receive a case of selected Franschhoek wines as recognition of her contribution. Coincidentally, Gibson was the winner of the first SA Annual Wine Writers prize in 2009.

Established in 2009, the South African Wine Writers Award celebrates the literary art of wine writing in South Africa.

“It was again an honour and a happy surprise to win, especially knowing some of the other entrants. I think it’s wonderful that the sponsors are trying to encourage South African wine writing in this way and I’m also pleased that they want to reward more “serious” well-researched sort of work rather than frivolous stuff that gets an easy, undemanding readership anyway,” said James. “It is a pity that it’s not easy to place longer, serious articles locally. Hopefully the Award will encourage local publishers as well as local writers,” he added.

James’s wine writing career dates back to 1996 when he won SA Wine magazine’s inaugural ‘New wine writer of the year’ competition. Since then he has written on the subject widely and as a columnist and occasional contributor to various local publications. As the prime mover behind this founding of Grape he acted as its editor in its incarnations as print magazine and formal website. Nowadays in print his main local contribution is as wine columnist for the weekly Mail & Guardian newspaper. Internationally he is one of a tiny number of local wine writers with a consistent presence: for example, he has consulted to the World Atlas of Wine, has been correspondent with Cathy van Zyl for Tom Stevenson’s Wine Report, and writes frequently for the World of Fine Wine.

He has for many years been a taster for Platter’s South African Wine Guide, for which he is also an Associate Editor. Sceptical of large line-ups of wine, he avoids big panel tastings, though has judged smaller competitions. He used to lecture on international topics for the Cape Wine Academy, and became a Cape Wine Master in 1999. James still happily recalls Jancis Robinson describing him as ‘South Africa’s wine controversialist’ and hopes not too much has changed in that regard; she also referred to his ‘scepticism’ and ‘romanticism’ – for which he’ll settle, given the harsher things some other people have had to say. James is at present preparing a book on South African wine for the University of California Press.

The purpose for initiating the award is to celebrate the art of wine writing, and the articles were evaluated anonymously on both technical accuracy and literary quality by a panel of three independent judges. The judges for this year were South African author and journalist Martie Retief-Meiring, author and US Wine critic Jay McInerney and France-based Andrew Jefford, who was International Wine Columnist of the Year at the Louis Roederer Awards 2010.

In addition to the cash component of his prize, James also received an award in the form of a serigraph Avocet by acclaimed South African artist Dylan Lewis. “No-one else seemed to notice at first, as I did, that the form of the long-legged, big-footed bird was somewhat reminiscent of a wine-glass (specifically that old-fashioned flat champagne glass),” said James. “It certainly made it particularly appropriate!” he added.

About the South African Wine Writers Award

Established in 2009, the South African Wine Writers Award celebrates the literary art of wine writing in South Africa. It is presented annually by the Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism Association, in association with the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

About the Franschhoek Literary Festival

The FLF has gained an international reputation as a respected celebration of books and writers, with the focus on promoting South African writing and reading, and well supported by the local community. The aims of the Franschhoek Literary Festival are to appreciate and encourage writers and writing at informal events in a village setting, to foster a vibrant culture of reading that will excite children about reading and writing, and to raise funds for community and school libraries in the Franschhoek valley so that appropriate books are available to all. The next FLF is scheduled for 11 – 13 May 2012.

About Porcupine Ridge

Porcupine Ridge wines from Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek are proud to be one of the associates of the Franschhoek Literary Festival. Porcupine Ridge wines were launched in 1996 and have grown to be one of the most recognised wine brands in South Africa. Being located in the Franschhoek valley, Porcupine Ridge has always taken a keen interest in the development of the town, and so it made perfect sense to support the Franschhoek Literary Festival when the opportunity arose. Boekenhoutskloof is also helping to fund a study by Christy Bragg, a PhD student at the University of Cape Town. Her four-year project on porcupines specifically investigates the effect that porcupine foraging has on different Cape ecosystems. For more information visit

About the Sunday Times

The Sunday Times, South Africa’s biggest weekend newspaper with almost 4-million readers, is part of media group Avusa Ltd. A South African icon, the Sunday Times has been setting the news agenda for more than a century. The paper is proud of its role in promoting literacy and reading in South Africa, particularly among children and young people. The Sunday Times launched the ReadRight initiative in 1999, aimed at teachers and parents who are encouraged to involve themselves in assisting learners with the variety of activities ReadRight offers. ReadRight is a regular feature in the Sunday Times Lifestyle magazine during public school terms. In addition to this, two million free copies are distributed to both urban and rural schools around the country yearly. The Sunday Times is also the founder of the prestigious Alan Paton award for non-fiction and the more recent Sunday Times fiction prize. Visit Account: Gilly Hemphill The Famous Idea Trading Co. 021 880 0889 082 820 8584 Franschhoek Literary Festival

Web site: Related Event: Franschhoek Literary Festival Dates: Friday, 11th May 2012 – Sunday, 13th May 2012

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 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 – Friday: 08h00 – 17h00
Saturday: 09h00 – 17h00
Sunday’s: 09h00 – 16h00

Contact Details
+27(0) 21 876 2861