meet your expert & passionate LUXURY WINE TRAILS TOUR team
Founder & passionate wine, food & cultural explorer
Following a I/T senior executive & management consulting career, Michael established Luxury Wine Trails, to share his love of great wine, food, celebration & adventure!
How better to live life & have fun than by discovering & experiencing visually spectacular wine & food destinations with fellow enthusiasts around the world.
Based in Sydney, Australia & with a wine cellar exceeding 2000 bottles, his personal journeys through Cape Town, the Western Cape coast-line & the Cape Winelands began 10 years ago. Each trip progressively opening his eyes to the unique potential of creating a hand-crafted immersive journey for adventurers seeking true bucket list experiences, combining great wine, food, luxury & fun mixed in with spectacular scenery, local arts, culture, architecture, flora, fauna, history & engaging education along the way.
Michael has partnered with the very best to deliver an all-inclusive 5 star journey, with great attention to detail. He then goes further with exclusive 'insiders' access to people & places to deliver true money-can't-buy experiences.
Entertaining food & wine masterclasses, exclusive winemaker dinners, rare tastings, personal chats with the country's leading executive chefs & much more, are all about delivering an engaging & truly hand-crafted adventure of a lifetime.
While the origins of South Africa’s Cape Town & Cape Winelands go back to the 17th century, it remains an undiscovered gem for many. The region is literally a melting-pot of vibrant cultures blending seamlessly with world-class wine & food, wonderful scenery, great hotels, amazing golf courses, warm weather & welcoming locals.
South Africa's Cape Winelands are one of only 9 Great Wine Capitals of the world, reflecting the global importance of this wonderful region.
Michael also partners with the finest safari lodges in the Madikwe Private Game Reserve to offer guests the ultimate convenience of adding a safari experience before or after their tour, and has teamed with the luxury & multi-award winning Rhulani lodge, to create a 6 day Cape Winelands + 4 day Madikwe 'Wine & Wild' experience of a lifetime!
Michael looks forward to sharing his love for this magical destination & all it has to offer.
Your Charming & Experienced Tour Guide
Katie is a gregarious & fun-loving lady who enjoys bringing people together. She will share a locals perspective on the wonders of the Cape Winelands, & whether you're a beginner, connoisseur or in-between, you'll be enchanted by her knowledge, wit & charm.
Having moved from England in the 1980s, Katie is passionate about showcasing the delights of the Cape Winelands. Her love for South Africa is deeply rooted & lives her life surrounded by magnificent vineyards, restaurants & spectacular scenery.
‘Wine is often thought of as elitist & intimidating. I strive to demystify wine & share the essence & joys of what's in your glass & why you like it.’
Katie is a registered tourist & cultural guide, specialising in tours of the Cape Winelands, and has worked for DeMorgenzon, one of the countries leading wine estates in Stellenbosch. Katie is regarded as one of the finest in the industry & universally adored by winemakers across the Winelands.
Katie holds a number of wine qualifications, including a Sensory Evaluation from the University of Stellenbosch & a Diploma from the Cape Wine Academy. Katie is qualified to taste & judge for the South Africa Wine & Spirit Board & is highly sought after for her tasting notes & general wine appreciation.
She sits on various tasting panels & has been a regular taster for Classic Wine Magazine, the Cape Wine Academy & educates to the broader hospitality industry.
South Africa's Leading Wine Judge, Writer & Masterclass Host
With 35 year’s local & international expertise, Michael is South Africa’s most respected wine judge, commentator & industry strategist.
Michael’s exclusive & engaging masterclass will introduce you to the wonders of the Cape Winelands, including a personal tasting of his favourite South Africa wines & varietals. You’ll also learn about how to judge wines & gain unique insights on the country’s wine-making history, industry progress & growing recognition on the world stage.
Michael is a great wine ambassador & orator & looks forward to sharing his passion with you, and joining you for dinner post-masterclass!
He is a visiting Professor of Wine Business at the University of Cape Town & has judged countless competitions globally including Chile, Slovenia, USA & Australia’s - National, Sydney & Perth Wine Shows.
A past chairman of the South African Wine Industry Trust & Sydney’s Six Nations Wine Challenge; he is the founding Chairman of South Africa’s Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show & the first international co-chairman of the UK’s IWC – International Wine Challenge.
Michael is an author or contributor to over 30 books, including the Oxford Companion to Wine & the Global Wine Encyclopaedia & writes for publications in South Africa, UK, France, Germany & India.
In 2012, he joined Britain's Michael Broadbent MW & Australia's James Halliday as honorary life members of the UK's Circle of Wine Writers.
Katinka van Niekerk
South Africa's Leading Food & Wine Pairing Author & Masterclass Host
Co-author of The Food and Wine Pairing Guide, Katinka’s passion for discovering what does & doesn't work when pairing food & wine, spawned her book & the development of food & wine matching courses, that are delivered in an engaging & informative way - both locally & overseas.
Katinka will host a memorable degustation masterclass, with a palate of fine varietal wines. During dinner guests will be invited to understand & explore their 5 primary taste sensations of umami (savoury), sweet, sour, salty & bitter, & why certain wines & foods complement beautifully, while others disappoint.
Katinka is a charming & articulate professional & is delighted to be a key part of the unique Luxury Wine Trails experience.
Having lived for many years in the USA, Germany, Israel, the UK & South Africa, Katinka refined & developed her passion for tasting, testing & investigation, while building an extensive database & a prodigious ‘tasting memory’ for flavours & sensations.
A career in the wine industry was followed by a stint as a lecturer for the Cape Wine Academy. She now consults to chefs & winemakers & is a visiting lecturer to many hotel schools & catering colleges.
Cathy van Zyl (MW)
Local/International Wine Judge, Master of Wine & Masterclass Host
Cathy is based in Cape Town, passed the prestigious Master of Wine (MW) examination in 2005 & served for 10 years on the Institute of Master of Wine's Education Committee, four as Chair, before joining its Council.
She regularly judges locally & internationally, & is the associate editor of Platter's South African Wine Guide (the country's most respected publication), as well as South Africa's correspondent for the Le Grand Tasting app by Bettane+Desseauve.
Cathy is articulate & passionate & looks forward to hosting you for a memorable & engaging masterclass that will explore the history of South Africa's winemaking, its unique vineyard regions & terroir.
We finish with an appreciation of how wines are judged & a personal tasting of some of the country's key varietals & wines.
Director SA Fine Wines, CEO 6 Nations Wine Challenge & your
'Vineyard-to-Home' Wine Logistics Leader
Based in Sydney Australia, Ross's vast experience in wine import/export & his love of South African wines will provide guests with the convenience of ordering any wine tasted at the vineyard & shipped to your home in Australia, inclusive of all freight, local duties & taxes, courtesy of Ross's wine logistics.
Delivery to many other countries around the world is also available direct from the vineyard.
Sharing the 'fruits' of your tour back home with friends & family is a great way to share the memories of your Luxury Wine Trails experience!
Ross is a degree qualified wine professional, with over 20 years of wine & liquor industry experience in retail, wholesale, brokerage, import/export, storage, education, recruitment & wine auctions - across Australia, UK & South Africa.
Ross owns a number successful businesses in Australia including the Wine Empire, The Whiskey Empire & South African Fine Wines, where he imports some of South Africa's finest drops into Australia.
He is also the owner & CEO of the 6 Nations Wine Challenge - an annual wine show held in Sydney, where the top 100 wines selected from each of 6 continents - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Canada & Chile - compete head-to-head in a comprehensive wine judging show across 16 varietal categories.
Riedel Glassware Ambassador & Masterclass Host
Tarryn looks forward to hosting a very personal Riedel Glassware masterclass with you, where she will demonstrate the importance of quality varietal specific glassware, through a masterclass focused on two of South Africa's unique & outstanding varietals - Chenin Blanc & Pinotage. Not to be missed!
Tarryn Vincent (nee Thomas), has represented The Reciprocal Wine Trading Company, South Africa's oldest specialist fine wine importer for over 14 years.
They are also proud distributors & ambassadors for the Riedel Glassware portfolio, makers of the world's finest glassware.
Six years ago, Tarryn opened the Cape Town office & hosts personal Riedel glassware tastings throughout the region. Her main focus are the Cape Wine farm vineyards - where personal education on selecting the correct glassware for the diverse range of premium varietals grown in South Africa, is critical to showcasing the winemakers' wines in their very best light with vineyard guests, wine retailers, restaurants, sommeliers & wine writers.