Being awarded International Winemaker of the Year in 2008, 2015 and 2017, does confirm Abrie Beeslaar’s undeniable talents as a great winemaker, but also recognises the world-class status of South Africa’s wines.

Growing up in the rural town of Worcester, some 120km’s north-east of Cape Town, Abrie Beeslaar initially he wanted to study medicine. Initially he wanted to study medicine, but fate (and the student culture at the University of Stellenbosch) steered him in another direction and he obtained a BSc degree in Viticulture and Oenology in 1997.

His very first job was an internship at Windmeul Cellar in northern Paarl, and this was followed by a position at another large co-operative cellar, Swartland Winery in Malmesbury, as assistant winemaker.

It was there where I met South Africa’s “King of Pinotage”, Beyers Truter, who regularly visited Swartland to select wines for his own Beyerskloof operation. They quickly realised that their common love for red wine, and more specifically Pinotage, would forge a friendship that continues to this day.

In 2003 he took over the role as winemaker at the world-renowned Kanonkop Estate, also famous for its production of world-class Pinotage wines, which further cemented his belief that South Africa’s national grape is worthy of competing with the best the world has to offer.

Kanonkop Wine Estate

Kanonkop Wine Estate

In 2011, his dream of making a truly unique Pinotage from a site-specific vineyard, was realised when he was offered the opportunity to work with grapes from a unique parcel of land in the Simonsberg region outside Stellenbosch, and this was the day his own wine label Beeslaar Wines were born.

Beeslaar wines, Facebook

Beeslaar wines, Facebook

Abrie Beeslaar has been at the helm of Kanonkop since 2003 and was awarded the International Wine Maker of the Year award in 2008, 2015 and 2017 at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London.

Featured Winemaker - Kanonkop Wine Estate – Winemaker, Abrie Beeslaar

Abrie noted that his success wouldn’t have been possible without the help of his whole team it the Kanonkop cellar and vineyards as well as the people who helped him gain international attention.

The IWSC is the world’s leading wine and spirits competition and more than 5,500 products are entered from some 50 countries spread throughout the world. This is a prestigious award and goes to show that South African wines can compete with and trump wines from anywhere in the world.

Kanonkop is home to the legendary Kanonkop Paul Sauer 2015 that has become the first South African wine to receive 100pts in the annual report on the South African wine industry by respected British wine judge, journalist and critic Tim Atkin MW. Amazing milestone for Kanonkop and winemaker Abrie Beeslaar.

“It was as perfect a vintage as I have ever seen,” says Beeslaar. “The vineyards experienced no moisture stress whatsoever during the growing season and during December there was just the right amount of strain placed on the vines to prevent excessive vigour in the final stages of the growth cycle,” he says.

The 2015 shows the true character one finds in great Paul Sauer vintages. In such years you see berry-fruit features together with those alluring, character-forming notes of cedar and savoury.

See our Meet the Maker virtual tasting with Abrie Beeslaar. Simply click on

Credit – Kanonkop Wine Estate

Credit – Wine Cellar Plus

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