Beloved Vinpro stalwart and wine industry legend Francois Viljoen received a prestigious Viticulture and Wine Creation Award in recognition for his contribution to the South African wine industry.
He was honoured during the annual SA Wine Harvest Commemorative Event on 2 February, with Carmen Stevens (1659 Visionary Leadership Award), Denise Stubbs (Diversity and Transformation) and Christine Rudman (Wine Appreciation and Wine Advancement).
Francois has been a viticulturist in the South African wine industry for the past 36 years. Prior to taking up his position at the helm of Vinpro’s Gen-Z Vineyard Project in July 2019, he was the manager of Vinpro’s consultation services for 20 years, during which he led a team of expert viticulturists and soil scientists.
Apart from his crucial role in facilitating the transfer of the latest technology, vineyard practices and cultivars through the Gen-Z project, Francois provides viticultural advice to wine farms across the South African wine industry. In 2014 Robertson Wine Valley awarded him the prestigious Pon van Zyl trophy for his outstanding contributions to the region and broader wine industry. He especially helped bring about a move towards goal-driven viticulture practices while emphasising the role of terroir and striving for quality.
“Francois truly is a worthy recipient of this prestigious award,” says Vinpro chairman Anton Smuts. “He is not only an expert in his field and advocate for viticulture as a profession, but is passionate about sharing and exchanging ideas, best practices, technology and research findings with anyone, from students to vineyard workers, producers and colleagues.”
“We are extremely proud of Francois,” says Vinpro MD Rico Basson. “He is a leader, mentor and pioneer with the Gen-Z Vineyard Project as his brainchild. Its foundation of ‘seeing is believing’ through the establishment of vineyard trials throughout the industry has fast-tracked knowledge transfer and will enable producers to be more nimble, innovative and sustainable.
“His feet are firmly on the ground – or rather in the vineyard. Always ready with a quip or story, Francois is an ever patient teacher with an incredible gift for conveying complex information in a simple way to any audience.”
The SA Wine Harvest Commemorative Event is held annually on 2 February in commemoration of the first vintage on South African soil in 1659. The virtual event, hosted at Groot Constantia, involved the Blessing of the Harvest, a celebration of the wine industry’s 363rd anniversary and the honouring of trailblazers in the industry.
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