Rosa Kruger, a self-styled ‘farm manager’ who is a leading figure in world viticulture and has played a major role in the development of South Africa’s modern-day wine scene, has been announced as recipient of the Decanter Hall of Fame prize for 2022.
She is also the first South African to join this exclusive group of wine world stars. This year marks the 39th edition of the award, previously known as Man or Woman of the Year and launched in 1984.
Chris Maillard, Decanter’s Editor-In-Chief, said, ‘Rosa Kruger is without a doubt one of the most influential figures in her region and, despite her modesty, has played a huge part in the story of her country’s wine. We’re proud to be able to honour her achievements.’
Kruger, a great-great-granddaugher of Paul Kruger, former president of the South African Republic, grew up on a farm in northern Transvaal. She turned to vineyard management after spending her early career working as a journalist and subsequently a candidate lawyer.
Today, she is particularly well-known for her dedication to uncovering, preserving and rejuvenating South Africa’s old vines. She founded the Old Vine Project in 2016.
Winemaker Andrea Mullineux said, ‘Rosa knows how to rehabilitate an old parcel better than anyone. She has both the patience and the long-term vision to know how a vineyard will develop in the future.’
In Decanter magazine’s November 2022 issue, Tim Atkin MW also praises Kruger’s contribution to South Africa’s post-apartheid wine scene, ‘promoting good labour practices, assisting a local nursery to import new European grape varieties…and helping young winemakers to find special vineyards’.
Read Tim Atkin MW’s full profile of Rosa Kruger
Decanter Rising Star 2022: Apostolos Thymiopoulos
Decanter also announced its Rising Star award for 2022 has been given to winemaker Apostolos Thymiopoulos, who has helped to propel a new generation of Greek wines on the international stage.
Now in its second year, the Rising Star prize was created to recognise up-and-coming wine world talent. Last year’s debut winner was Dr Axel Marchal, professor at Bordeaux University’s Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV).
Thymiopoulos, based in Naoussa, in Macedonia, northern Greece, is notably credited with transforming red wines produced from the Xinomavro grape variety.
Sarah Jane Evans MW described Thymiopoulos as far more than a brilliant winemaker. ‘He has become the ambassador for Greece’s new wines and winemakers, taking Greece beyond the southern Mediterranean and establishing it on international markets,’ she wrote in a profile piece for Decanter magazine.
‘It’s arguable that Apostolos’ star has already risen,’ said Editor-in Chief Chris Maillard, ‘as he’s already had a great impact. But our expert panel felt that somebody with his energy and drive isn’t going to stop there. He’s got much more to give, and we’re looking forward to whatever he does next, which will no doubt be stellar.’
Thymiopoulos studied winemaking at Athens University and opened a wine shop in Thessaloniki before returning to the family winery. He farms biodynamically and named top Greek winemaker Haridimos Hatzidakis, from Santorini and who died in 2017, as a key influence.
‘Haridimos taught me how to extract freshness from fire – that is, how to produce wines with freshness and finesse from a hot volcanic terroir,’ Thymiopoulos said.
Matthew Horsley, wine buyer at The Wine Society, said Thymiopoulos’ wines are of ‘impeccable elegance and authenticity’, and can ‘stand proudly among the finest wines in the world’. He added, ‘He’s also a great person.’