This year’s winner of the Van Ryn’s Award for Brandy Excellence is Nina-Mari Bruwer (29), a Robertson winemaker, who describes herself as “passionate about brandy.”

She scored the highest grade in the brandy module of the Cape Wine Master’s (CWM) programme. All CWM candidates are required to write an exam on brandymaking and also pass a brandy taste exam to complete the syllabus and earn their certification.

The Mont Blois Wine Estate winemaker, who is married to the manager of the sixth-generation family farm, also received top marks when she took the Van Ryn’s Advanced Brandy Course Certificate programme in 2012.

She has been working at Mont Blois since 2008 and previously was with Thelema Mountain Vineyards and Boekenhoutskloof Winery.

Cape Wine Academy MD Michelle Grimbeek says that with her winemaking expertise and experienced brandy palate, Bruwer is well-placed to make a positive contribution to South Africa’s flourishing specialty brandy sector: “With such erudition and a love for brandy, she has just what’s needed to tell more South Africans about our exciting, internationally acclaimed brandies and what makes them so worthy of attention by connoisseurs.”

Van Ryn’s Distillery close to Stellenbosch produces the Van Ryn’s Collection Reserve range of specialty luxury brandies that consistently win awards on leading international competitions. It has won the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Worldwide Best Brandy title five times and the International Spirit Challenge Best Brandy trophy, four times. It recently won a double gold and two gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards.

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