From left to right: Gary Knoetze, Christelle Reade-Jahn, Director of the South African Brandy Foundation and Ronaldo Fourie

South Africa, Stellenbosch, 13 December 2022; The victors in the second South African Brandy Innovation Challenge have been revealed. This year’s champion brand pioneers are hospitality entrepreneur Gary Knoetze, “artivist” Mondli Kunene and distiller Ronaldo Fourie.

They each win R50 000 that was up for grabs in this year’s event and the opportunity for mentorship from industry specialists. They also have the privilege of bragging rights to have won in the 350th year since brandy was first  distilled on South African shores.

Organised by the South African Brandy Foundation and Winetech (Wine Industry Network of Expertise and Technology), the annual South African Brandy Innovation Challenge calls innovative thinkers to submit game-changing brandy business ideas.

Mondli Kunene

The concepts that caught the judges’ attention addressed the 2022 Innovation Challenge from diverse perspectives. Ultimately, only three remained. Gary took a top spot with his brandy sour cocktail ready mix cocktail; South African Brandy and fine art, for Mondli; and, a Private Barrel Club concept for Ronaldo that could be used by distilleries as a promotional tool, and individuals or groups of friends keen on making their own brandy.

This year’s competitors certainly took the challenge to new heights. “We were really excited to see bold entries that pushed the envelope,” says South African Brandy Foundation director Christelle Reade-Jahn. “Considering the members of the judges panel, the ideas made for much lively discussion before the winners were decided.”

A new judge co-opted this year was Simone Musgrave, a known disruptor and spirits industry strategist.

Another tweak to the 2022 event required the panel to consider not only new brand and product ideas, but also innovative ways to market brandy to a new consumer. 

“So, part of the competition was about innovation within intrinsics or packaging, and part is thinking out-the-barrel about how brandy shows up, so to speak; how brandy can be presented in fresh ways,” says Christelle.

The winners of the inaugural competition last year were Tinashe Nyamudoka and his Kumusha Potstill XO Brandy presentation, in the category of new market development; Coetzer Hanekom and Die Mas Kalahari Fynetjie Rosegold brandy, in the category of new intrinsic; and, Michelle Coates for the Blend-Your-Own-Brandy kit, in the category for consumer insights.

Since victory at the Innovation Challenge, Kalahari Fynetjie was launched and appeared on celebrity Minki van der Westhuizen’s popular TV show with a cocktail called the Minki Pinki; Michelle’s Blend-Your-Own-Brandy kit launches this season; and, Kumusha Brandy is set for distribution in 2023.

More information about the South African Brandy Innovation Challenge is available at

Keep up to date with news from premium South African Brandies on the South African Brandy Foundation’s social media channels via Facebook @brandysouthafrica; instagram, @sa_brandy; Twitter, @brandyrockssa; and, on YouTube @sabrandyfoundation.

#BrandyInnovation #ShareTheSpirit

For comment, contact Christelle Reade-Jahn, Director of the South African Brandy Foundation via

For Press and media assistance contact Ian Hamilton Manley of ManleySocial via (27) (0) 82 826 0456  or email


Photographer: Andrew Gorman