Entrepreneur wins Van Ryn’s Award


2012 van ryns award for brandy excellence winner resized

Pic Caption: Caroline Sanders, Van Ryn’s brand manager; Derek Ramsden and Andy Roediger of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters.

A Gauteng entrepreneur is the 2012 winner of the Van Ryn’s Award for Brandy Excellence. Derek Ramsden graduated from the Cape Wine Masters (CWM) and achieved the highest score in the examination section devoted to brandy.



The CWM programme is run by the Cape Wine Academy. Van Ryn’s, which sponsors the award, has won the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) Worldwide Best Brandy title four times and is also a three-time winner of the International Spirits Challenge (ISC) Best Brandy trophy. The Van Ryn’s Collection Reserve range is created at the Van Ryn’s Distillery along the banks of the Eerste River in the Vlottenburg Valley on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.

Ramsden, who used to run a cabinet-making and shopfitting business with his father, Dennis, as partner, switched to wine as a career three years ago when the family concern was sold after 18 years. His new business, One Wine Cellar Consultant, based in Gauteng, operates in an exclusive niche market, as the only specialist company focused on the design, manufacture and stock management of private and restaurant wine cellars, including a consulting and sourcing service.


‘Graduating from the Cape Wine Masters programme has solidified my intention of making a name for myself within the wine industry, both locally and abroad,’ Ramsden says.


The CWM brandy module, added to the course in 2006, comprises a written and a tasting examination involving brandies from around the world. Cape Wine Academy CEO, Marilyn Cooper, says that to win the Award for Brandy Excellence one must have an exceptional conversancy with brandy, both as a taster and in one’s theoretical knowledge. It requires not only dedicated study but passion, and genuine interest. Derek is a perfect example of such a candidate and it came as no surprise that he achieved the highest score in the brandy section of the exam.’

It is essential for Cape Wine Masters to become experienced brandy tasters in their role as ambassadors for the entire wine industry, an industry which includes and embraces spirits made from grapes. South African brandies are of exceptionally high quality, with the title of best brandy in the world awarded locally no fewer than ten times over the past 13 years.