We are getting ready for Vino Varsity 2015

Backsberg is gearing up for the seventh annual Vino Varsity Challenge. It is three weeks to go before South Africa’s most notable university wine societies compete for the title of Vino Varsity Champion.

Three teams face three prominent judges from the wine industry in a competition that tests their general wine knowledge, wine tasting palate and debating skills related to an industry-related topic. We look forward to hearing the teams’ presentations on how to grow specified international markets on a minimal budget.

The wine societies of Maties, Tuks and Ikeys will battle it out in 2015 and all these teams have taken part in the challenge in previous years, with Maties winning the most titles and Ikeys winning the trophy in 2014.

This year we welcome our judges, namely David Clarke, Australian Sommelier and owner of the wine agency Ex Animo; Ross Sleet, Sales Director at Cape Legends; and Zaan Eksteen, Sales and Marketing for Invoer.com, a boutique SA wine importer.

The Vino Varsity Challenge is an inter-varsity wine competition that aims to encourage wine appreciation on campus, develop passionate oenophiles and of course celebrate wine. This event is a fun and mostly amicable contest to reveal which is the most wine-savvy Wine Tasting Society in the country. Teams bring along many faithful supporters to cheer, sing and encourage their players.

The Vino Varsity Challenge takes place at Backsberg Estate Cellars on the 14th of August 2015 at 15:00h. For more information call 021 875 5141 or visit www.backsberg.co.za.
Contact alana@backsberg.co.za if you would like to attend this fun event.

UCT claim the first Business School Vino Varsity trophy!

Business School Vino Varsity 2015

Backsberg has run an intervarsity wine competition called the Vino Varsity Challenge for the last 6 years. The challenge has seen university wine societies compete against each other. This year Backsberg has rolled out another version of the challenge for Business Schools. Last week the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business competed against the University of Stellenbosch Business School. The challenge sees teams go head-to-head over the course of three rounds including a general knowledge quiz, a wine tasting and a debate.

The judging panel consisted of industry experts Edo Heynes, Editor of Wynland Magazine, Rico Basson, CEO of VinPro and Jonathan Steyn convener of the UCT Wine Business Management course. They were on hand to give relevant commentary and to judge the debate.

The inaugural Business School Vino Varsity kicked off with great spirit. First up, the MBA teams were faced with 30 general knowledge questions. UCT started off on a winning streak answering nearly every question right, while USB trailed behind by quite a few points. By the second round the playing field seemed to equalise. Teams blind tasted through ten flights of three wines. UCT and USB drew in this round, giving USB a chance at catching up.

Round three was the decider. Teams debated how to increase the national per capita wine consumption from 6ℓ to 9ℓ in the next ten years. The presentations were insightful and interesting. USB suggested focusing on a demographic of the population that often feels ‘forgotten’ in wine circles, namely the young, trendy black female. UCT in turn focused on innovative packaging solutions to make wine drinking more attractive.

The judges were impressed with their clear segmentation of a potential market and their plan to target it. USB won the debate round by fractions of a point. After much team banter and light-hearted rivalry the judges announced UCT Graduate School of Business as the Vino Varsity Champions!

The winning team enjoyed a bottle of 2003 Klein Babylonstoren straight from the decanter trophy – in true winning style! Thomas Mehl, the UCT team captain commented: “The UCT team, supporters and GSB academic staff learnt a great deal about the wine industry and this provided an ideal platform to network with the USB MBA students.”

For info

Call 021 875 5141 or visit www.backsberg.co.za.

Ikeys regain the Vino Varsity trophy!

The skies were clear blue last Friday afternoon as the competing teams entered the arena for the 6th annual Vino Varsity Challenge. Tuks arrived early with time to spare for some on-site preparation. Ikeys pulled up with a team of blue-clad supporters and Maties donned face paint and pirate hats.

Vino Varsity is an inter-varsity wine-tasting competition where university wine societies are given a platform to show off their wine knowledge and tasting skills. The competition encourages wine appreciation on campus, develops young, refined wine drinkers and celebrates wine. Backsberg aims to get the wine societies involved, networking and competing on a national level in a fun environment.

Teams tackled 30 general knowledge questions covering wine history, winemaking and international wines. Ikeys played their A-game in this round, getting almost every question right. Tuks huddled together on answering the questions and used their option of ‘phoning a friend’ to answer two questions, but not even this tactic could save them. Maties started off slow but they managed to pick up the winning pace towards the second set of questions. This was nail-biting stuff.

All was not decided just yet; round two commenced and Ikeys confidently sailed through the tasting questions scoring winning marks for blind-tasting ten flights of wine. Teams had to identify cultivars, origins, vintage and faults, amongst other tough questions. Tuks and Maties drew in this round to everyone’s surprise, giving Tuks a chance at catching up. With Maties now on a back-foot, murmurs erupted from the crowd “Maties! You have to hold on to the title!”

The competition would be decided in round 3. Teams debated the topic of how important Terroir is in a South African setting. In their argument they considered this question from the perspective of the consumer, the producer and the trade. The judges for this year were André Morgenthal, WOSA Head of Communications; Neil Grant, Chairman of the South African Sommeliers Association; and finally Ivan Oertle, Woolworths wine buyer. They were on hand to give relevant commentary, opinions and clever wine wit.

After three rounds of war cries, encouraging team chants and general team banter the judges tallied the scores while the contestants and guests enjoyed yet more wine.

Ikeys were crowned the Vino Varsity Challenge Champions for 2014! They regained this title after Maties held it for the last three years. Ikeys enjoyed the success with a bottle of 2004 Klein Babylonstoren straight from the decanter trophy – in true winning style! Maties achieved second placed and Tuks third position but everyone celebrated together on a great challenge and fun afternoon. Nick Hoernle from Ikeys concluded in saying: “We are so pleased that the trophy is back where it rightfully belongs! Go Ikeys!”

For info

Call 021 875 5141 or visit www.backsberg.co.za.

Maties hold on to the title of Vino Varsity Champions

Low-lying clouds and gripping cold surrounded Backsberg last Friday as Vino Varsity 2013 was about to kick off. It wasn’t long until the heat was turned up. The UCT bus arrived with a group of supporters, wearing warrior face-paint and chanting deep-pitched war cries. Tuks entered the arena with a four-man strong team and one supporter, walking tall and sussing out the competition. Nothing could intimidate them. They were here for one thing – the trophy! Maties arrived fashionably late, dressed in red and black attire, sporting top hats. They filled the venue, looked confident and repeatedly belted out Maties songs of encouragement!

The first round comprised 30 general knowledge questions covering wine history, winemaking and international wines. Maties had their A game on and dominated this section.

All was not lost; the second round commenced and Ikeys confidently announced that this would be their round for the taking. Teams tasted through ten flights of wines. Each flight comprised three wines. Teams had to identify cultivars, origins, vintages, RS levels and faults, amongst other questions. Someone quipped that the only fault to a wine is “that it has not been drunk yet!”

Round three would decide the competition. Teams debated the topic of alcohol advertising and the effects of the proposed ban. Arguments were varied and all three presentations differed in style, delivery and content. Tuks wowed us with a concise and to-the-point, factual slideshow presentation. Maties looked at the other side of the coin by asking “well what if we don’t ban alcohol advertising?” and Ikeys posed an argument relaying it back to real-life saying that alcohol does not cause alcoholism – individuals cause alcoholism. All very interesting angles and the judges had a difficult time deciding on the overall best. It was decided that the flow, content and presentation of Ikeys was the best.

After three rounds, back-and-forth war banter between the teams, a few sips of vino, and a well-deserved boerie roll, the winning team was announced.
Maties! Winners of the fifth Vino Varsity Challenge for the fourth time! Cheers erupted and the winning team enjoyed the spoils of their win – a 1987 bottle of Backsberg Klein Babylonstoren and their names etched into the Vino Varsity Decanter Trophy.

Tuks achieved second place and UCT third by only a couple of point’s difference. It was a great day. The judges imparted great advice and extensive wine knowledge. Angela Lloyd, Mark Norrish and Chris Williams were an asset to the judging panel and there was no shortage of wit either.

For info

For more information call 021 875 5141 or visit www.backsberg.co.za.

Maties clinch the 4th annual Backsberg Vino Varsity Challenge | Media Release

MEDIA RELEASE (For immediate release)
23 August 2012

Maties clinch the 4th annual Backsberg Vino Varsity Challenge

As the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch buses pulled up at Backsberg last Friday, there was a perceptible tension in the air. Faces painted and flags waving, it was clear that that the UCT Wine Society was determined to retain the title. Likewise, Stellenbosch, was ready to give it their all. Add into the mix the unknown Pretoria Wine Society, who was competing in the Vino Varsity for the first time, and the afternoon was set for a vinous battle.

Pre-drinks consumed at a fast pace, the competition started with introducing the judges. The 2012 panel consisted of winemakers Richard Kershaw (MW) and Tariro Masayiti, and Ogilvy SA Head of Digital Innovation Chris Rawlinson.

This year’s Backsberg Vino Varsity comprised three legs: a general knowledge section on wine history, winemaking, and wines of the world; a blind tasting to identify styles, regions, varieties and faults; and a presentation in which each team had to argue around the topic ‘What is more important – what’s in or outside the wine bottle?’.

The competition was fierce. Maties edged the general knowledge section over Ikeys, with Tuks just off the pace in third position. ‘We prepared hard for the general knowledge section,’ said Melissa Marias, Tuks captain. ‘We were definitely the underdogs coming into this competition, but we were determined to prove that Pretoria is about more than just brandy and coke.’

The second section saw Maties dominate the blind tasting, pulling away from the other teams. This round also saw one of the biggest upsets in Vino Varsity history, with Tuks beating Ikeys into second place. ‘Our tasting skills really let us down today,’ says Doug Hoernie, captain of the UCT squad. ‘Last year we hammered Stellenbosch, so we are very disappointed with today’s result. We will have to come back stronger next year.’

The final round saw both Maties and Tuks stumble in their presentation. Ikeys, on the other, showed off their sharp debating skills, arguing deftly that what was outside the wine bottle was indeed more important. ‘UCT nailed the presentation,’ said Chris Rawlinson. ‘The other teams were simply no match.’

The final scores were tallied, and to cheers of celebration it was announced that Maties had taken the Backsberg Vino Varsity 2012. ‘After being beaten by UCT last year, we knew we had to pull up our socks this year,’ said Maties captain Bryce Gillespie. ‘We have put in hours of practice for the competition and it paid off.’ The Vino Varsity Trophy, a decanter, this year filled with a bottle of Backsberg Klein Babylonstoren 1992, was presented to the victors, Maties.

Simon Back, Backsberg Marketing Manager, says the Backsberg Vino Varsity Challenge continues to grow, and is capturing the imagination of university wine societies. ‘In previous years we have had Wits, and Rhodes participate. It was brilliant to have Pretoria here this year. We plan to reach out to more universities in the future,’ he said. ‘The vision is to take the competition to a national level.’

For more information please see the following:

Website: http://vinovarsity.withtank.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vinovarsity

Twitter: https://twitter.com/vinovarsity


Issued by: Backsberg Estate Cellars

Contact: Leilani Sell

Email: leilani@backsberg.co.za

Tel: 021 875 5141

Vino Varsity judges confirmed

The judging panel for Friday has been confirmed: it includes winemaker and MW Richard Kershaw, winemaker and Commanderie de Bordeaux en Afrique du Sud member Tariro Masayiti, and the Ogilvy SA Head of Digital Innovation Chris Rawlinson.

Blue Bulls to participate in VVC 2012

Ok not quite, but almost: the University of Pretoria’s Wine Society is going to participate in the Vino Varsity Challenge for the first time. Exciting stuff. If they taste wine like they support the Blue Bulls, then UCT and Stellenbosch are in for a challenge.

Vino Varsity behind the scenes

Check out http://backsberg.co.za/2011/08/25/vino-varsity-2011/ for a behind the scenes look at how everything went down.

Third Time Lucky for UCT as they take the Backsberg Vino Varsity

In one of the biggest upsets in the wine world since the Judgement of Paris in 1977, the University of Cape Town beat perennial favourites Stellenbosch to take top honours in the 2011 Backsberg Vino Varsity Wine Tasting Competition. The resounding nature of UCT’s victory added to the awe-inspiring result as the Capetonians won two of the contest’s three legs, drawing the third with Stellenbosch who this year had to contend with the runners-up jug. Newcomer’s Rhodes University from Grahamstown were third.

“We knew we had it in us, but the manner in which we won has surprised the whole team,” says Doug Hoernie, captain of the UCT squad. “Last year we were hammered, as was the case in 2009. We did a lot of soul-searching in the beginning of 2011, put in the hard work and came to Backsberg physically and mentally prepared. Quite frankly, I don’t think Stellenbosch knew what hit them.”

This year’s Backsberg Vino Varsity comprised three legs: a blind wine-tasting to identify styles, regions, varieties and faults, a general knowledge section and a presentation in which each team selected a grape variety they perceived to be South Africa’s vinous calling card.

Chosing Chenin Blanc, UCT put on scintillating display of presentation skills, clarity of thought and touches of apt humour. They also deftly handled the questions put to them by the three judges – wine legend Dave Hughes, critic Christian Eedes and Australian marketing expert Georgie Prout.

The all-girl Rhodes team fared well in the debate section with their seductive argument for Shiraz, while Stellenbosch bombed with a nervous and jittery crusade for Pinotage that should see Pinotage King Beyers Truter beating his head against a new French barrique.

UCT were controlled in the wine-tasting section, correctly identifying terroir, cool climate and blended components, upsetting Stellenbosch’s reputation of technical excellence. Stellenbosch regained a bit of glory in the general knowledge section, tying with UCT, but this was too little too late.

“We were beaten by a better team on the day,” says Neil Bent, captain of the Stellenbosch team. “Well done to UCT – enjoy the moment. We know how it feels so it hurts double to lose the trophy. But we’ll be back as challengers next year.”
Simon Back, Backsberg Marketing Manager, says the third Vino Varsity drew the biggest audience of all contests to date and showed that the concept was capturing the imagination of university wine societies.

“It was terrific to have Rhodes here and we are looking at reaching out to more universities in the next competition,” he said. “I am impressed by the enthusiasm shown by all the students in embracing wine as a part of South African and university culture, as well as the efforts they are prepared to make in preparing for this competition.”

Tension Mounts ahead of Backsberg Vino Varsity Clash

A quiet storm is brewing before this Friday’s three-way intervarsity wine-tasting between the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Rhodes on the Backsberg Estate in Simondium. Stellenbosch, victorious in the past two Vino Varsities, face a two-pronged onslaught from on-form UCT and enthusiastic first-time participants, Rhodes from Grahamstown.

Vino Varsity 2011 will see the three teams fight it out during an intense set of challenges which include a general knowledge section, a physical and gruelling wine tasting and an energy sapping debate.

“We desperately want to be the first university to take this title three times in a row,” says Neil Bent, captain of the Stellenbosch Barriques. “If we do it, it will not only mean a lot to Stellenbosch’s reputation as a hub of vinous excellence, but our rigorous training over the past few months would have paid-off, proving pride is something you have to work hard for.”

Bent knows, however that Stellenbosch has its work cut-out. “UCT has been drinking from the runners-up mug for two straight years and they are not happy,” says Bent. “And with their rugby team taking the honours in the Varsity Cup earlier this year, they are set to upset the cart. We know we are up against it.”

Doug Hoernie, captain of the Ikeys Crushers, says Stellenbosch has a reason to be concerned. “Our victorious rugby team has certainly motivated us to believe in ourselves,” he says. “Training has been intense, but our major emphasis has been on strategy. We pored over video material of our performances over the last few years and have accepted our limitations and embraced the stupid mistakes we made. Our tasting has just not been up to scratch, so we hired a few technical experts to help us. Everyone trains hard – we believe we just trained smarter.”

Both captains agree that the Rhodes Malolactics are dangerous due to their being the unknown factor.

“Stellenbosch and UCT have an idea of what to expect from each other. But with this being Rhodes’s first venture into Vino Varsity, who knows what they are going to throw at us,” says Hoernie.

Rhodes skipper Carina Truyts is keeping her corkscrew close to her chest and would not indulge the other two teams as to what the ladies from Grahamstown may have in store for them.

“General knowledge and debate, well, it could go anyway on the day,” says Truyts. “But the tasting session is where the real decider is going to come in. Just be prepared for fresh, un-jaded palates is all I’m going to say.”

According to Simon Back, Backsberg marketing manager, Vino Varsity was conceived to generate a greater enthusiasm for the wine culture among students at all South African universities.

UCT and Stellenbosch have always been known for their enthusiastic wine societies due to these universities’ close proximity to the traditional winelands,” says Back. “But by having Rhodes here this year and Wits a previous competitor, Vino Varsity is highlighting the excitement wine generates among students throughout the country. With this annual event we hope to bring the industry and future consumers a step closer to one another through a bit of fun, a heap of action and – of course – a glass or two of great wine.”

The countdown to the 2011 Backsberg Vino Varsity Challenge begins

This year’s Backsberg Vino Varsity Challenge is happening on Friday afternoon 19 August, and will see some of the country’s premier wine societies go head to head.

If you are a journo, blogger, tweeter, interested party, or perhaps would like to see justice done against Maties for winning the 1967 inter-varity down down challenge, and would like to attend, please drop a comment below, and we will add you to the list.

Maties weer die fynste proe(w)ers

There is a really nice article in today’s Die Burger. Click here http://bit.ly/cb3z47 to read the article, and here too http://bit.ly/dal3hv.

The Official News

Herewith a copy of the press release doing the rounds.


Stellenbosch University’s Wine Society retained the Backsberg Vino Varsity Trophy over the week-end with a stunning victory over the Universities of Cape Town and Wits. In a one-sided contest, South Africa’s major inter-university wine-tasting competition ended with Stellenbosch beating the other two teams in all three categories consisting of wine general knowledge, blind tasting and a presentation on their passion for wine.

Neil Bent, captain of the victorious Maties, said that his team performed well, despite the pressure of going into the Vino Varsity as favourites. “Having won the inaugural Vino Varsity held in 2009, we knew the other teams were going to up their game and that they were coming into the competition with no expectation or pressure,” says Bent. “Wits were also the unknown entity, as this was their first appearance at Vino Varsity and we did not know what to expect from them nor their high altitude palates.”

After a strong showing in the general knowledge section, which saw the teams having to each answer 15 wine-related questions, Wits and UCT were forced to play catch-up. Wits put in a strong showing in the blind-tasting section, narrowly losing to Maties who displayed an awesome knowledge of South African and international wines.
Stellenbosch’s irreverent, alternative presentation on what drives the wine society’s passion for wine also saw them winning this section, leaving them as outright winners.

“We stuck to our game-plan, which was to take the fight to the other teams in the first section, namely general knowledge,” says Maties team-coach Emile Joubert. “Having hit our straps in this section, we could go into the blind-tasting as a calm, focussed unit, while the pressure was on Wits and UCT. Neil Bent led from the front giving a true captain’s performance. His general knowledge was spot on and he mustered his troops well to ward off Wits in the blind-tasting. Neil’s commitment to a Spartan-like training regime in the off-season for him and his team also made Maties the fittest team by far.”

According to Simon Back, marketing manager for Backsberg and organiser of the Vino Varsity, Vino Varsity is proof of a vibrant wine culture at three of the country’s foremost universities. “The wine societies are playing a major role in promoting wine on their campuses, and Vino Varsity aims to assist in endorsing and promoting an awareness and love of wine among young South Africans,” says Back. “With the success of the second contest, Vino Varsity is looking at going national next year. Students have shown the industry that the glass is half-full.”

Further Inquiries: Emile Joubert, organiser, 082-8862437

Pics of the clash

Be sure to check out http://www.facebook.com/vinovarsity or more specifically http://bit.ly/cvmk1d for some pics from the challenge. Nice.

Maties retain the Backsberg Vino Varsity Challenge

Maties came out winners on Friday’s second Vino Varsity Challenge. UCT was second, and Wits third, in a closely fought battle of the senses. More to follow.

Tough road ahead

Just busy finalising the questions for tomorrow’s Vino Varsity Challenge. There are some seriously tough questions - I had to google one or three to confirm the answers. Att wine societies, be prepared.

Jet setters

So the WITS team consists of high percentage of medics - go figure - and we are flying three of the four person team down to the farm for the challenge. The fourth team member is in the Cape already for a beer tasting competition, would you believe it. They had an exam moved to tomorrow morning, so fancy travel agent footwork by yours truly and we organised them a later flight at 12h30, my sister to pick them up from the airport and they are coming straight to the farm to start the competition at 16h00. Jet setters of note.

Backsberg is back… with the Vino Varsity Challenge!

Friday sees Maties meet Ikeys meet WITS in the second Backsberg Vino Varsity Challenge.

Vino Varsity on Facebook