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KF 1659 Visionary Leadership Award

Ken Forrester Vineyards is renowned for producing wines that have received international acclaim and numerous awards, including the world’s top Chenin Blanc at the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards for the 2021 Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc.

At the 2023 Wine Harvest Commemorative Event this February, Ken Forrester himself was recognised for his visionary leadership in the South African wine industry with the 1659 Visionary Leadership Award. This annual event, celebrated during the SA wine industry’s birthday month, recognises individuals and organisations for their exceptional contributions.

Ken has become known for his dedication to Chenin Blanc, which he has been championing since 1993. Despite being advised to uproot an old Chenin vineyard and plant Pinotage or Chardonnay, he decided to give the varietal a chance. With the help of top winemaker and friend Martin Meinert, Ken set out to produce Chenin Blanc that could rival any white wine in the world.

After a 21-day charity bicycle ride from Johannesburg to Cape Town via Durban, Ken made his first visit to the beautiful Cape Winelands, and realised an immediate longing to be a part of it. Forrester’s illustrious career in the hospitality industry led him to Stellenbosch many years later when he and his wife, Teresa, attended a property auction that started his winemaking journey and catalysed the South African Chenin Blanc revolution. From his childhood in Zambia to working in hotels and restaurants, Forrester’s experiences have shaped his leadership style and dedication to quality.

Thanks to Forrester and other visionary South African wine producers, South African Chenin Blancs are now among the world’s finest wines. Ken continues to spread the word and produce wines of increasingly remarkable quality. His dedication to Chenin Blanc is not only a contribution to the South African wine industry but also an inspiration for other wine producers around the world.