A short history and background

The Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards was established in 1997 to offer South African producers the opportunity of having their wines adjudicated locally by a highly experienced and respected panel of professionals from around the globe.

Our primary objective was – and to a great extent still remains - to support local wine and spirits producers who are targeting international markets for exports and, through our international judges, are able to determine whether their wines will be well received both abroad and locally.

However, since 2003 the competition has received an increasing number of entries from international wine producers; in 2018 a total of 16 countries entered their products, making the Michelangelo a truly international competition in every sense.

Now, in its 23rd year, the competition remains unique in South Africa, in that all judges are hand-picked wine experts, representing all seven continents. Since the start of the competition in 1997, more than 170 different judges from 46 countries (more recently including Russia, Romania and China) have served on the panel.

All entries are judged blind by panels of 5 judges, using the 100-point international judging system.

Major expansions

2003 marked the start of a new era for the competition when the Michelangelo International Wine Awards moved to Stellenbosch, the main wine producing area of South Africa. During that year the organisers introduced the first of a number of trophies, namely the Grand Prix trophy for the top scoring wine, the Pinotage trophy and a trophy for the best Garagiste (Boutique) wine entered into the competition.

The first entries from outside South Africa were also submitted in 2003, among them the Australian Wilson’s Oak Chardonnay 2001 which was awarded one of only 19 Grand D’Or medals in total in that year. A further three international entries, namely from Italy, France and Australia were awarded medals in the same year.

Since then both importers and distributors of foreign wine, brandy and liqueurs in South Africa and producers from other countries who are seeking representation in South Africa have entered their products. International entries are judged together with local entries and are all considered for the Michelangelo International Wine Trophy, awarded to the best foreign entry.

Brandy and spirits join the line-up

An important step forward was the introduction of South Africa’s first dedicated award for brandy in 2009, in the form of a Michelangelo trophy.

This step was followed by a further development in 2014 when an evolution in the spirits industry commanded the inclusion of liqueurs and spirits in the judging line-up. Michelangelo subsequently added 18 spirits classes, while in 2016 introduced four trophies dedicated to awarding craft spirits producers.

World-first QR technology gives Michelangelo the edge

In 2017 Michelangelo introduced the world’s first customized, award-winning medal sticker, which allows the consumer to scan a QR code and get product-specific access to information such as food pairing notes and sales information. Scans from more than 70 countries have been recorded since November 2017, presenting valuable marketing leads to our award-winning producers.

Trophies for the crème de la crème

1. MCC Grand Prix Trophy
2. MCC Dessert Grand Prix Trophy
3. TN Coopers Coffee Pinotage Trophy
4. JF Hilebrand Pinotage Trophy
5. Michelangelo Golden Oldie Trophy
6. Michelangelo Brandy Trophy
7. Michelangelo Garagiste (Boutique) Trophy
8. RX South Africa Organic Trophy
9. Vinventions Sauvignon Blanc Trophy
10. TM Tonnellerie de Mercurey French Style Red Blend Trophy
11. African Cellar Suppliers Methode Classique Trophy 12. IQ Business Most Innovative Wine Trophy
13. TRANE Best Cape Blend Trophy

14. TRANE International Trophy
15. Michelangelo Liqueur Trophy
16. Distillique Trophy for Most Innovative Spirits
17. Distillique Trophy for Best Craft Gin
18. Distillique Trophy for Best Craft Vodka
19. Distillique Trophy for Best Craft Rum
20. African Celler Supplies Pinot Noir Trophy
21. TSOGO SUN Cabernet Franc Trophy
22. SA Airlink Shiraz Trophy
23. Michelangelo Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy
24. Michelangelo Whisky Trophy
25. Michelangelo Merlot Trophy
26. Michelangelo Chenin Blanc Trophy

Michelangelo Awards Today

In 2018 the company changed its structure to become more flexible and competent in a constantly expanding market. The Michelangelo team now consists of five members, each with a number of dedicated responsibilities to ensure the company is geared for the ever changing and demanding wine industry. Meet the team:

Group Executives

Lorraine Immelman image
Founder and CEO

Lorraine Immelman



Dirk Harris image

Dirk Harris

Award Sticker Orders and Entries



Barry de Vries image

Barry de Vries

Logistics and Events



Mynard Slabbert image

Mynard Slabbert

Franchising and Sponsorships