Looks Good Enough…To Drink!


Now in its fifth year, the annual Wine Label Design Awards aims to help you impress your dinner guests with what’s both in and outside.

Do you sometimes find yourself in the wine section of your supermarket, pondering all the options with a thousand-aisle stare?

If so, you would probably appreciate any help you can get: Mr Platter’s handy guide for example, or competitions such as the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and Veritas Awards that result in bottles looking like decorated war heroes.

But for the past five years, there is one unique competition that looks, quite literally, outside the conventional metrics of sweetness, acidity, tannin, alcohol and body. Welcome to the Wine Label Design Awards, organised by Winemag.co.za and proudly brought to you by Rotolabel!

Grapes in Drapes

This year’s event was held at the recently rebuilt and appropriately impressive Hazendal Estate in Stellenbosch, and was once again prefaced by the Beer Label Design Awards.

But in terms of gravitas and fanfare, the grapes in drapes tend to steal the limelight as they have done since Jacqueline Lahoud and Christian Eedes first launched the competition.

Orpheus & The Raven

When Wine magazine closed in early 2012, the two then-colleagues formed a partnership and purchased Winemag.co.za as a stand-alone digital brand.

And it remains one of the few local platforms where category reports are published, archives are kept and fine local wine is discussed and rated by experts in the field.

These creative awards simply add another layer to that conversation – particularly if you are the kind of wine drinker who enjoys having a story to tell about a beautiful looking bottle as much as you love the juice within.

Keeping Things Honest 

As Jacqueline explains, “Choosing wine can be daunting, so we need great packaging as a way to identify ownership, show origins, describe contents, and ultimately entice buyers. This year’s winners all do exactly that!”

Wine events typically take themselves rather seriously, but this may be the only vinous affair where tattooed creatives rub shoulders with wine legends, the MC is allowed to crack jokes, and the crowd is encouraged to whoop and clap rather than rattle their jewellery in appreciation.


There are four judging criteria: originality of concept, creative execution, shelf appeal, and “effectiveness as a piece of communication”.

And to keep things honest and make sure it does not turn into a “big budget” affair, wines are judged in four categories: single bottles under R80, over R80, over R500, and wines in a series.

There are bronze, silver and gold awards, as well as a People’s Choice Award, and if there is one that stands out from the pack in every way: a Grand Prix. Here are some highlights of the 32 Wine Label Design Award winners for 2019…

Words by Brandon de Kock


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