The Cape wine industry doesn’t do a great job of celebrating its heroes. There are no “lifetime achievement awards”. The closest thing is a gong awarded annually on February 2 — the date, in 1659, when Jan van Riebeeck recorded the first crush of Cape-grown grapes.

The recipient of the 1659 Medal of Honour “should have demonstrated … a pioneering, positive and significant contribution to the wine industry”. Laureates over the years (and there have been many deserving ones) have been almost exclusively male, white and Afrikaans-speaking. This alone should suggest that if there have been any trailblazers among them, they followed fairly well-trodden paths...

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