2021 – Rico Basson


fltr: Jacques Steyn (ICWM chairperson), Rico Basson (CEO Vinpro), Bennie Howard (CWM)

The annual Institute of Cape Wine Masters’ Black Tie Dinner was held on Saturday, 11 September 2021 at Jordan Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. This prestigious event on the ICWM calendar is also the platform to announce the ICWM Wine Personality of the Year award.

Rico Basson, CEO of Vinpro, was designated Wine Personality of the Year. Vinpro is a non-profit company which represents close to 2 600 South African wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders.  Basson was given this award for the sterling work he did to lead the South African wine industry in its lobbying efforts with the South African government during the series of national lockdowns during the spread of the Covid 19 pandemic since March 2020.

Together with other stakeholders he was at the forefront to voice the wine industry’s viewpoint during the banning of production, movement, distribution, exporting and selling of wine and alcohol; afterwards, when some concessions were made to allow the 2020 harvest to be completed; during the lifting of the export ban which is estimated to have cost the industry more than R2 billion; followed by the lifting of the domestic ban on selling of alcohol across any channel, including online, and the resumption of normal trading, but without patrons being able to buy alcohol or drink wine in restaurants; and then during the reinstatement of yet another domestic ban.

Basson is also involved in an industry-wide effort to gain legal support for its appeal to the government via a High Court action suit to give the wine sector some much-needed concessions to prevent further ruin of the businesses of hundreds of wine producers and wineries and the loss of an estimated 18 000 jobs.