At the 1991 International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, history was made when the Kanonkop Pinotage received the Robert Mondavi Trophy as the Best Red Wine and Beyers Truter, then the winemaker at Kanonkop, was nominated as International Winemaker of the Year.
The judges sang Pinotage praises and used phrases such as "excellent wine and grape variety with tremendous potential", and the "future of South Africa", and "Pinotage should be taken seriously". Since then a separate category was created for this variety, putting it on the same level as the traditional European varieties.
In 1995, James Suckling, the editor of American Spectator, visited the Cape for a tasting of old Kanonkop Pinotages. He declared: "What the hell is going on here? These are spectacular, spectacular!" At last, after seventy years, South Africa's home-hero wine was receiving the kind of acclaim for which it had been waiting for.