Brief history:

The first 3 Cape Wine Masters (FC "Duimpie" Bayly, Bennie Howard and the late Tony Mossop) wrote and passed their examinations in 1983, but were only awarded their diplomas on the 19th of July 1984! The ceremony took place at a cocktail function, held in the office of Godfrey de Bruyn, the Chairman of the Cape Wine and Spirit Education Trust, which was formed by the wine industry to coordinate the training and education of industry related people, and also to confer the CWM diplomas. Not more than 20 people were present at the office in Dorp Street in Stellenbosch, to witness the handing over of the diplomas to the 3 new graduates!

The title of Honorary Cape Wine Master was awarded to Dave Hughes, Phyllis Hands and Colin Frith. They were given Honorary status due to the fact that they were the examiners during the first 12 years of the CWM programme and could never write the exams themselves, and for doing the ground breaking and outstanding work to start the CWM programme. Dave Hughes was head of Consumer Relations at SFW at the time and was overall responsible for the CWA and had a wealth of wine experience. Phyllis Hands was Principal of the Cape Wine Academy from its inception in 1979 and well known for her wine knowledge and training wine people. Colin Frith was appointed as wine buyer at SFW in 1982, and brought with him a huge amount of knowledge regarding international wines with his vast background of wine in the UK retail trade.  

In 2003 the Cape Wine and Spirit Education Trust granted the Cape Wine Academy the right to award the Cape Wine Master qualification and confer the Cape Wine Master’s title, in collaboration with the Institute of Cape Wine Masters.

Founded in 1979, the Cape Wine Academy is recognised as the official wine education and training institution in South Africa.

Course overview:

The Cape Wine Academy provides a range of social and professional wine courses for individuals and tertiary institutions and specialises in creating bespoke wine-tasting events for corporate clients.

The starting point to learning about wine is the South African Wine Course (now also available as an online version - click here). On completion of an exam, students can join the Certificate Wine Course, followed by the 2-year Diploma Wine Course, and ultimately the Cape Wine Master programme, the highest qualification in wine education in South Africa.

The Cape Wine Master qualification is a self-study course, and there are no formal lectures or tastings. Most candidates form or join study support groups. Candidates are provided with a mentor who will provide guidance and support. Students must successfully complete the following programme elements to achieve the Cape Wine Master qualification:

  1. Four tasting exams of international and South African wines - natural wines / sparkling wines / dessert and fortified wines / brandy
  2. Four theory exams - viticulture / viniculture / distilled and other products / general knowledge
  3. A dissertation on a topic that has been approved by the examining committee
  4. Present a formal tasting to an examining panel.

In the first year of registration, it is compulsory to sit all four tasting exams AND one theory exam.

Cost:  on application

Course Requirements:

Once candidates have successfully completed the 4-module Diploma Wine Course at the Cape Wine Academy, with an average pass mark of 60%, they can apply to study toward the qualification of Cape Wine Master.

Passion for wine is an imperative for the journey toward becoming a Cape Wine Master. There is no requirement that candidates should be involved directly in the wine industry or wine education.

It is likely that people who are this committed to the enjoyment and knowledge of wine will be involved in lecturing at the Cape Wine Academy or hosting wine tastings in their community.

Course Duration:

Candidates have a total of 5 years from the date of registration to complete the various components of the qualification. However, a (small) number of our members have completed the course in less than 2 years.

If candidates complete the 4-module Diploma Wine Course in June, they could register to write CWM exams in October of the same year.

For more information on how to enroll for the Cape Wine Masters study programme, the costs involved and duration of the programme, please visit