Here in the Cape, we are incredibly proud of the exceptional wine we produce. It is absolutely world class as Lismore Wines have proven with their recent accolades on international platforms like Decanter Magazine, The Financial Times and most significantly, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Lismore’s 2014 Syrah made it on to the Robert Parker’s Top 50 Picks of 2015. This is THE list every winemaker, from all over the world, hopes to be on. The wine advocated sampled 30 000+ wines and narrowed it down to the best 50 wines from last year.

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In addition to this, the 2013 Lismore Chardonnay, the 2014 Viognier and the 2014 Barrel Fermented Sauvignon Blanc all achieved high points by the Wine Advocate.

We chatted to Lismore owner and winemaker Samantha O’Keefe to find out how her reactions to this wonderful recognition and why she got into the wine industry.

How did your wines reach these significant international critics? 

Neal Martin, the critic who reviews South African wines for The Wine Advocate and eRobertParker.com tastes my wines every year. Critics come and sample wines in the Cape Town Wine Show, where I showcase my wines.

How did you find out that your Srah made Robert Parker’s Top 50 Picks of 2015? 

I had no idea Lismore’s Syrah made the list. I get the newsletter, and I was scanning through the listing, hoping to see any South African wine there. Then I saw mine. It was unbelievable.

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How did you feel when you saw your wine there? 

I couldn’t believe it! It felt so surreal. I think here in South Africa, we have accepted that we won’t be the flagship producers in the world when it come to wine, so it was so great to see that we are being recognised internationally. I was so moved by the gesture. It was wonderful and humbling, and when I saw it I thought wow! Something has changed.

How did you get into winemaking? 

I bought the farm with my ex-husband. For us it was more than just making wine, it was a way for us to build something for our family. When my ex left, I had my farm and my two little boys, and my feelings did not change. I really wanted to make it work, for myself and my sons, and in the process, I just fell in love with winemaking.

You are originally from California, why did you choose the Western Cape as the home for yourself and Lismore Wines? 

I came to South Africa for a different way of life, and when I was 29, it was just time for that change. I had my first baby, and I always knew that I did not want to raise my children in America. I love it here; everyday I am so glad to be here and I am so happy that I get to raise my kids here.

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For you, what makes a great wine? 

No matter what wine you drink, it’s all in the taste. When you take a sip you should be able to tell that this wine comes from a specific place, that the grapes were harvested from a specific climate. All my favourite winemakers produce their wares in unique sites and you can tell this through taste.

What’s your personal favourite wine? 

It’s difficult to say specifically which wine is my favourite. In general, I love a wine that has an elegance to it. I tend to favour those that hail from a cool climate. Oh, and I do love a good Syrah!

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What do you want people to taste/experience when the drink Lismore Wine?

When someone drinks Lismore wine, they should feel like they have tasted something different and unique. To me, great wine tells a story, it makes you think, and this is what I want people to experience.

Photography courtesy

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