Our new Conversations with Masters of Wine (MW) series on The Connected Table LIVE introduces you to MWs around the world who share their stories and perspectives on the business of wine in their regions. In our first podcast we take you to South Africa.

Cathy van Zyl MW is Associate Editor of “Platter’s South African Wine Guide.” She became the first Master of Wine on the African in 2005 and has served as a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine education committee for 10 years, including four as chair. Cathy lectures and judges locally and internationally, occasionally contributes to wine journals and websites around the world. She was a contributor to 6th edition of Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia (updated the South African chapter together with Tim James CWM), and contributor to South African chapter of Tom Stevenson’s Wine Report, for seven years. In 2019, she was named Institute of Cape Wine Masters’ Personality of the Year for her passionate promotion of South African wine.

Cathy Van Zyl MW

Cathy lives in the Western Cape with her husband, Phillip Van Zyl, editor for Platter’s Wine Guide. She is a human encyclopedia on South African wines with keen perspectives on the industry which has had its history impacted by politics, conflicts and economic challenges.

Due to the time difference, we pre-recorded our show with Cathy, who warned us there might be “load shedding,” a regular occurrence of scheduled blackouts throughout South Africa to manage electricity. Cathy explained this had been a longtime problem since the main power supply source in South Africa cannot keep up with demand.

The other concern is climate change. This past harvest experienced experience extreme heat conditions resulting in one of the smallest crop yields in 17 years.

Still, South Africans and the vintners remain stalwart, and we’ll happily reach for a bottle of Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon, A Swartland Steen (the traditional South African nae for Chenin Blanc) or a Walker Bay Pinot Noir any chance we can. The next best thing would be another visit to South Africa. Our last was in 2006-2007, and we were bowled over by the beauty of the wine regions we visited.

Stellenbosch vineyards, South Africa. Photo: Wines of South Africa

Stellenbosch vineyards, South Africa. Photo: Wines of South Africa

Listen to our conversation with Cathy Van Zyl MW on The Connected Table LIVE!