Juliet Cullinan

South Africa wine industry steps into 21st century

Juliet Cullinan is also the founder and creator of the annual Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival. Wine evangelist, devoted epicurean, Cordon Bleu chef, consultant, promoter of high quality wines, aesthete, scribe, editor, Juliet is also the founder of Monaco’s top lifestyle magazine,

“My pride in SA wines drives me to promote the supreme. Its all about excellence – quality wineries, quality guests, quality service. It’s a small personal show, elite boutique wineries with limited quantities of exceptional wine.”

“My abiding love for unique wines and those who make them compels me to showcase the best South African vintages year after year. Being driven to teach the ways of the vine, the why’s of terroir, and all the nuances and traditions wines encompass, I have brought diverse elements of the wine fraternity together for more than 25 years.”


Juliet has been initiated into three highly respected international orders. She is the first woman to be elected by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and the Ordre des Côteaux de Champagne and the only South African in the Monaco Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

She graduated from L’Institut International des Vins et Spiriteux in Bordeaux, KWV and Cape Wine Academy in Johannesburg, the British Wine and Spirit Educational Trust and the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London.

Juliet Cullinan – World firsts

  • 2018 First woman in South Africa to be a member of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin
  • 2005 First wine images to depict the flavours of different grapes
  • 2005 First wine symbols to visually describe the structure of wine, without having to write tasting notes out in longhand
  • 2006 First bespoke bread and wine pairings using wine-flavours in bread at Decorex, South Africa
  • 2009 First Google virtual tours of South African wineries
  • 2015 Presented a piece of music by 3 different artists to show the diversity of music. I served 3 Chardonnays and 3 Shiraz to show the diversity of Cape Regions
  • 2016 The first virtual tour using Google 3D Glasses
  • 2011 first QR codes on the catalogue, with links to the wineries at the Monte Carlo Wine & Business Club
  • 2011 Redefined wine as a fine art, by matching varietal wines to paintings from the Standard Bank’s private collection


Juliet Cullinan’s passion for wine began maturing in the 1980s when she worked in KWV’s London office promoting the South African Wine Farmers Association for two years, before the office was closed down due to sanctions against SA.

London in the eighties was an introduction to Masters of Wine, international tastings, the International Wine and Spirit wine course and wine bars. It was a short flight from France with courses in Bordeaux, flutes of Champagne in the Champagne Region, deciphering the minute vineyards and complex Appelation system in Burgundy, Châteaux and Chenin in the Loire and rosé on the French Riviera. Juliet returned to SA, designed and presented the KWV International Wine Courses, followed by a year with J.M. Da Fonseca in Portugal and a brief spell launching Rhebokskloof rosé before starting her own company Juliet Cullinan Wines.


Juliet Cullinan’s expertise in wine promoting ranged from consulting for Stephan Welz Sothebys Auction House in Johannesburg to inviting Edouard Malbois, visionary food and wine personality from Enivrance in Paris to Cape Town and Johannesburg. Her passion for the vine led her to launch the Juliet Cullinan Wine Connoisseurs Awards. A love of food and a pioneering spirit inspired her to open a cooking school turning out leading chefs. The Juliet Cullinan Cookery School was fêted from Johannesburg to Cape Town. A regular speaker on the By Word of Mouth radio programme, discussions of food and wine on a local radio station.  Juliet was also in demand as a freelance writer for local and international newspapers, magazines and websites. She penned the wine chapters of the book Fine food on the Highveld by Lyndall Popper.

Recognising and Celebrating Talent

Oenophile Juliet Cullinan, founder of the Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival – celebrating its 28th anniversary – raises a glass to the humble beginnings of SA’s most prestigious wine event.

From my first mouthful of black forest cake to foie gras, my life has always been about entertaining, promoting and tasting. At two years of age I held my first magnum of Bollinger and by four, I was arranging tables and party food for my dolls.

My father Neil Cullinan first taught me how to identify grape varietiesnand my grandfather, Ronald Osborn who took me travelling and introduced me to new cuisines. He told me that he didn’t care if I failed in life, but he did care “if I didn’t try”. Both men taught me to follow my dreams and never settle for anything less.

In my early twenties, I invited a few winemakers to present their flagship vintages at a private wine tasting in Hermanus,. Peter Finlayson from Bouchard Finlayson, Tim Hamilton Russell, a pioneer in the Walker Bay area, Gyles Webb from Thelema, and Norma Ratcliffe from Warwick graced my event with their wonderful wines. It was a huge success so I decided to launch a wine festival in Johannesburg for 25 producers.

Travel was different then, and this was one of their few annual trips. The Inanda Club’s provided the debut backdrop. I remember welcoming wine lovers with a glass at the reception and introducing them to these delicious wines. The agile late Ross Gower did flick-flacks down the centre aisle and the winemakers swopped tables, promoting competitors’ wines while they joked with guests. It was a long tiring night and as we packed up, Webb, Gower and Lowell Jooste called for a beer!

Little did I know at the time I was creating a blueprint for the oldest and most exclusive wine show in the country. Every wine on offer is hand picked, unique and internationally acclaimed. We introduce icon wineries to enthusiastic tasters. This is what makes this event so noteworthy.  It has taken me from small venues to grand conference halls.   I continue to promote South African wines in England and Europe.

My children have always been eager to get involved. At three, my daughter Claire Cullinan Scott pronounced my name as “Juliet Cullinan Wine Fesibal” and at six, she was selling entry tickets and welcoming guests with a “do have a good tasting”. My son David Cullinan Scott loved lees contact and malolactic flavours on chardonnay. Once the winery refused to serve him, at 8 years old. “But I always spit,” he  replied indignantly. My children loved the publicity and I loved having them share the event with me.

The festival has taught me follow my heart and be guided by my passion.  After 36 years in the wine industry, wine is both my passion and my profession.  Looking back at its humble beginnings I feel very honoured to have had the loyalty and encouragement of the wine fraternity. It has been a lesson in trust.  The wineries put their faith in my ability many years ago and I have introduced them to knowledgeable wine lovers and help their wines to be served in boardrooms and distinguished homes.

Standard Bank propelled the event to new levels with their sponsorship eighteen years ago.  Its my greatest joy to see the winemakers at the festival talking animatedly to guests that have supported me all these years. Together with Standard Bank we created a festival that has introduced the appreciation of wine to so many over the past 28 years.

On the 5th May 2018, I managed to achieve one of my lifelong dreams.

I was inducted as a member of the Chevaliers du Tastevin, the world reknowned Burgundian fraternity dating back from 1934! I am the first South African Woman to be elected. In honour of my induction to the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin in May 2018, the Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival will highlight the grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in Burgundy.


Queen of the TasteVin 

Juliet Cullinan describes her induction into les Confrérie des Chevaliers, a knighthood of wine kinship, at the Château du Clos de Vougeot in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or region   On May 5 this year, one of my lifelong dreams bore fruit when the Chevaliers du Tastevin,...


Deconstructing the grape and discovering the enjoyment of Wine Juliet Cullinan has designed a novel way to convey her love of the fermented grape in her new concept of “Illumination”, which unpeels the mystical layers of wine appreciation through the media of art,...


Unveil sensory, timeless treasures and indulge in the secrets of the vine

Each winery featured in the superior Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival is handpicked for its quality and distinction. By showcasing small, exclusive boutique wineries, we provide a forum for interaction between wine lovers and talented cellar masters. The Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival is the longest running and most prestigious wine festival in South Africa. Visitors to the event can expect unsurpassed social interaction with the country’s top cellar masters and producers in an up-market, intimate venue.

Find out more about the

Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival


My pride in South African wines drove me to promote the supreme for over 25 years. My abiding love for unique wines and those who make them compels me to showcase the best South African vintages year after year.