Three new aspirant winemakers have been given the rare opportunity of honing their skills working side by side with some of the country’s finest masters of their craft as part of the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme.
This mentorship programme aims at developing and empowering talented young Protégés to become future winemakers and viticulturists of excellence.
This year’s intake of three new interns brings to 20 the total number of Protégés who have participated in the programme since its inception in 2006. Under the mentorship of members of the Guild and the patronage of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust, a world of opportunity in the wine industry will open up for these three graduates of Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch.
Peter Vakele of Khayelitsha in Cape Town is spending his first year at Ernie Els Wines under the watchful eye of Louis Strydom, chairman of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust. Fellow Protégé Sydney Mello, who comes all the way from Mahwelereng in Limpopo, is working with veteran winemaker, Neil Ellis. The third new addition to the programme is Maryna Huysamen of Vredendal in the West Coast, who joins David Nieuwoudt at Cederberg Cellars.
Peter Vakele, a dedicated and focussed young man, is determined to learn all that he can from the programme. “I believe the contacts and the experience that I will gain from the Protégé Programme will give me enough strength to venture out and start making my own wine,” he says.
For Sydney Mello making wine is a rare opportunity to create something unique: “As a winemaker you get to impart a piece of yourself into the wine. It becomes a reflection of you as a person and is a very personal process, given all the blood, sweat and tears including the long hours we put in as winemakers.”
Maryna Huysamen has an immense passion for the wine industry: “I love nature and have always known that I want to pursue a career in this field.”
With 2016 filled with exciting prospects for these three new candidates, 2nd and 3rd year Protégés have all started the year with new mentors. Rose Kruger spends her final year in the programme at Kanonkop under the guidance of Abrie Beeslaar. Mahalia Matshete has started her second year by joining the Hartenberg team under Carl Schultz, while Clayton Christiaans kicks off his second year at Haskell Vineyards with Rianie Strydom. Both Kiara Scott and Logan Jooste, who is the first viticulture Protégé, are spending their second years with Charles Hopkins at De Grendel.