The Nedbank Cape Winemakers First Year Protégés for 2019 #WineJoziStyle

Nedbank CWG JoziStyle Wine Edward Chamberlain-Bell


The annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Showcase is fast approaching. In partnership with the Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG), an association of some of South Africa’s finest winemakers, Nedbank is once again bringing the Nedbank CWG Showcase to wine lovers across the country.


The event will be held in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 21 August 2019 and will be a showcase of locally available wines produced by the members of CWG. The informal (walk-about) tasting will be presented by the winemakers themselves; all experts in their fields who have played a significant role in the development of the South African wine industry.

Nedbank CWG Showcase promises a unique opportunity for guests to not only taste world-class wines but to also discover the stories behind their creation. We encourage all wine enthusiasts to join us at this event which will further accelerate transformation in the South African wine industry

Nedbank and the Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) are giving aspirant winemakers and viticulturists the opportunity to work alongside and be mentored by South Africa’s best winemakers and members of the guild. This year, six new students have been given the opportunity to be part of the Nedbank CWG Development Trust protégé programme.

Established in 2006, the protégé programme is a 3-year internship programme created in a bid to help fast track the transformation of the wine industry. Amongst the least transformed industries in South Africa, wine production presents a challenge of extremely high barriers of entry, due to the cost of education and accessibility of opportunities.

The Nedbank protégé programme plays an active role in the long-term health and sustainability of the wine industry and since its inception, it has enrolled 30 proteges and 20 of whom now work within the South African wine industry. The most successful skills development programme of South Africa’s wine industry, it has seen multiple protégés create their own wines, exposed them to international opportunities, as well as win prestigious awards.

Our partnership with CWG aligns perfectly with our belief to use our expertise to do good. And our role in society is not only to provide financial solutions but to use our influence to effect positive change in the communities we serve.” Said Khensani Nobanda, Group Executive: Group Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Nedbank.

Banele Vakele, a former protégé who recently returned from harvest in Australia’s Yarra Valley recounted his experience. “I did not see winemaking as a career that could be pursued by a black person in South Africa because I was never exposed to such career choices until my matric year. I got an opportunity to attend high school in the Constantia wine valley and got curious about my surroundings. I did some research and fell in love with the idea of using my senses of touch, smell and taste. The opportunity to travel and explore other cultures sealed the deal for me.”

“The protégé programme taught me a lot about the industry and about myself. I had three mentors whose different styles or philosophy of winemaking helped my personal growth. I worked with different soils, climates and cultivars in the Western Cape that was a great experience,” concludes Vakele.

Current protégé, Roger Cloete’s journey has been somewhat different. Growing up in Chicago, a rural community in Paal his passion was mathematics, physics and chemistry. Due to financial constraints he couldn’t finish his chemical engineering degree, but fate led him to read an article on a wine learnership on his way to buy a train ticket home.

“I applied for the learnership in 2012 and got accepted, this led to me securing my first job as a cellar worker in 2014. However, I wanted more out of this and was curious and fascinated by the art of winemaking and the industry as a whole. I enrolled myself to study Winemaking at Elsenburg Agricultural College in 2016. It was tough but I successfully managed to graduate in 2018 with a B. Agric degree,” said Cloete.

As a young black woman joining a male-dominated industry, Mahalia Kotjane knew the journey wasn’t for the fainthearted. “I think a fitting description would be that it’s been a colourful journey. My wine love-affair began as a student in high school. We were tasked to do a project about the role of micro-organisms and I chose to do my project on wine-making. With limited information from the internet, I bought table grapes from my local supermarket, crushed the grapes in a 750ml jar and placed it in a dark cupboard and waited to see what would happen. A few days later the grapes were covered in mist, all cloudy and bubbling away. I was so intrigued by this whole process that I really wanted to pursue this as a career.”

“After matric I moved to Cape Town to study winemaking at Elsenburg Agricultural College. My parents were shocked and doubtful of my career choice but I was determined. It was not as glamourous as I had imagined it to be, but I persevered and graduated. In xxx I got the opportunity to participate in the Nedbank CWG protégé programme and through it got the opportunity to join an international harvest in Burgundy France, as well as create my own wine for an auction. My time in the programme was both enriching and empowering.”

“After the programme, I decided to focus on and build my own wine brand, called ThreeQuarter Wines. The name was inspired by my family birth order, I’m the third pregnancy, yet the fourth child but it goes beyond that. My experiences have taught me that all fine wine is virtue of character, personality and quality which are defined by terrier, weather and winemaking respectively, which I hope to encapsulate in every bottle of my wine.” she added.

Kotjane currently works as an assistant winemaker at Stark-Conde Wines and plans to harvest for her own brand in early 2020.

Lucretia Africa (Viticulturist) – Protégé at De Grendel with Charles Hopkins From Delft

Studied BScAgric Viticulture & Oenology at Stellenbosch University

Why have you chosen to study viticulture and to become a viticulturist?
I decided to enrol myself in the Viticulture and Oenology course to see which one interested me more. I always wondered about Distell as a company and after hearing what they do I become more invested in this career. Since first year I knew that being a winemaker was not for me and that the vineyards with its grapes and soil excites me more. I enjoy being on the road just to enjoy the fresh air and look at the different types and colours of soils we passed. On road trips to the West coast and Franschhoek the greenness used to interest me, but little did I know about growing grapes. Being in this course has given me a broader spectrum of the vineyards.

Now, even when I did my internship I was amazed how I longed to be in the vineyards rather than in the cellar. I didn’t spend much time in the vineyards at my farm and longed for it, but also gained experience in the cellar of the winemaking. Suckering at a neighbouring farm and interacting with the workers made me want to know more about the vines because they spend most of their time in the vineyards.

Describe your ideal job as a viticulturist:
During my internship I enjoyed going with the viticulturist assistant to draw samples at the farms we bought grapes in from. We drove from farm to farm and did certain blocks on a farm that were allocated to us. This was exciting because at first we would search for the blocks at certain farms or taste the grapes to make sure that we are maybe at the right block.

I experienced the same cultivar being planted at different slopes, I was introduced to new cultivars (Verdelho and Therona) or workers being busy with suckering and making the canopy less dense before harvest. It is amazing how a vine can change in a day during flowering and ripening or a week being dormant after pruning.

Knowing yourself as you do, what contribution do you think someone like you will make to the industry?
I would really want to be a more outspoken person and to have confidence when speaking about the vines. When you talk to certain people about your career they only seem to be more interested in the winemaking part. I want them to realize that without the grapes there is no wine. Even though you grow good quality grapes it depends on what the winemaker does with it in the cellar, but when you don’t grow quality grapes that how could you invest in making good quality wine from it. We as Viticulturists never get acknowledgement for the grapes we grow but only through the wine that is produced from the grape.

Victoria Davis – Protégé at DeMorgenzon with Carl van der Merwe From Paarl

Studied BScAgric Viticulture & Oenology at Stellenbosch University

Why have you chosen to study winemaking and to become a winemaker?
I wanted a profession where my daily tasks would be varied. I was, and still am, crazy about nature and coincidentally my favourite subjects were life science and chemistry. I wanted to study something that involved these subjects and Oenology and Viticulture were therefore right up my alley. I am also originally from Paarl and grew up surrounded by vineyards. I spoke to someone who studied oenology and he explained what the course was about. Since then I have been very interested in winemaking. I immediately wanted to learn about the winemaking process and after doing some research I was convinced that I wanted to become a winemaker.

Describe your ideal job as a winemaker:
My ideal job as a winemaker would be to work in Stellenbosch as a red wine winemaker. Preferably in a cellar that focusses on quality rather than quantity and that isn’t too big. A place where I don’t need to focus on just one aspect of winemaking, in an environment where I am given the freedom to be heard. A job that I look forward to go to each day and where I enjoy working with my assistant winemakers and cellar assistants.

Knowing yourself as you do, what contribution do you think someone like you will make to the industry?
I am young and I think that is what the industry needs to gain new perspective. The contribution I would like to make to the industry is to raise more awareness about nature in terms of our winemaking practices; to find more ways for everyone to be more environmentally friendly. I would like to break the stigma that the wine culture / wine industry has. Many people think that wine is just for a certain group of people, and that is not true.

Roger Cloete – Protégé at Neil Ellis Wines with CWG Member Warren Ellis From Paarl

Has a B. AGric Degree from Elsenburg Agricultural College

Why have you chosen to study winemaking and to become a winemaker?
I was currently working at a winery as a cellar assistant (on a casual basis) and took numerous courses in winemaking which triggered my curiosity to find out more about winemaking and the process itself. I want to become a winemaker because I believe winemaking is both an art and science and these two subjects (art and science) are where my passion/determination originated from. I want to create a piece of art(wine) with the necessary characteristics/aroma profiles etc. which the market can enjoy and at the same time, it is a way I can express myself.

Describe your ideal job as a winemaker:
I will be a hands-on winemaker working closely with the viticulturist in the vineyard. During harvest time I will be active in the cellar: sorting of grapes, doing additions to the must and wine, cleaning alongside with my staff members(team), basically I would help anywhere I can as well as to fulfill my management duties. I would probably do a lot of administration work like filling in sawis-forms etc., travelling to other wine regions, clients overseas and present tastings to different types of audiences. Detecting faulty wines in my cellar, problem solver, quick decision-making, work under pressure and work long hours. Doing the right blending to perfect my wines.

Knowing yourself as you do, what contribution do you think someone like you will make to the industry?
My ultimate goal is to create something different for the South African wine market and the global market that would make South Africa stand out from the other wine countries. Something unique and original in the winemaking process. I also want to be an ambassador or an example for children in school to become winemakers. That there’s a lot of careers and opportunities in this industry and not just In the occupations of lawyers, doctors, engineers etc. I think the industry is still at its infancy stage ready to give rewarding and challenging careers that will help with socio-economic growth which the country desperately needs.

Candice Barnes – Protégé at Cederberg Cellars with CWG Member David Nieuwoudt From Crawford in Cape Town

Studied at UCT (Social Science Degree) and BAgric at Elsenburg Agricultural College.

Why have you chosen to study winemaking and to become a winemaker?
While completing my bachelor of Social Science degree at UCT, I knew it wasn’t the career path I wanted to pursue. Based on the current employment statics I was determined to pursue a career which I would not only enjoy and excel in but also make a difference and comfortably provide for myself and my family. After doing lots of research on the programs offered at Elsenburg and asking around for sound advice on going into the agricultural sector, I decided to pursue my studies and a career in the wine industry, as a winemaker.

The Bagric Cellar Technology at Elsenburg has already equipped me with the necessary skills required in the industry; however, I am confident that my personality and passion can influence the outlook of wine. Ever since making that decision, I have not looked back. I am thoroughly enjoying what I am doing and I am constantly learning new things about the industry and about myself.

Describe your ideal job as a winemaker:
I feel I would be more of a hands-on approach winemaker who communicates appropriately and treats all staff equally and with respect. I would be involved in the assisting and planning of the grape planting strategy as part of the viticulture teams. I would be in charge of coordination activities in the vineyards and the cellar. I would monitor the grape production process as well as do the necessary testing of fruit quality and determine the ideal harvest schedule. I would supervise and manage maceration and filtration as well as the fermentation processes. Furthermore, I would take charge of checking if wines are ready to be bottled and be part of this process as well as supervising the labelling process. Ultimately, I would help with the maintenance of the vineyard and cellar and oversee the production team in the cellar.

Knowing yourself as you do, what contribution do you think someone like you will make to the industry?
I am a hardworking, quick learning, team player. I have a passion for wine and see it as an art of creation rather than a task. My innovation, determination and drive will constantly guide me and my fellow colleagues on ways to improve the industry and generally to produce superb quality wines. Being a big dreamer means I am never looking back but rather focusing on the future and reaching and exceeding set goals. I am an analytical thinker which means my strengths lie in my ability to effectively communicate and complete tasks timeously. Ultimately, my great passion and excitement to start working in the industry makes me an asset as I have a strong will to succeed in everything I do.

Michael Topkin – Protégé at Beyerskloof with CWG Member Beyers Truter From Simon’s Town

Studied BScAgric Viticulture & Oenology at Stellenbosch University

Why have you chosen to study winemaking and to become a winemaker?
While working in the restaurant industry I quickly became the “go-to” man when customers looked for recommendations of what wine would go with their food, as I knew quite a bit about wine which I learnt from my mother who studied through the Cape Wine Academy and it rubbed off quite strongly.

My occupation at the time was that of a bartender, making cocktails and coffee was part of the industry that was developing into an art that required the eye and taste of a perfectionist. Cocktail bartenders became known as mixologists, coffee makers turned into baristas, and I had to be both and more. My talents were eventually noticed and I was elevated to a beverage manager, designing cocktail menus, sourcing coffee beans and creating wine lists. It was during this time that I was constantly told I had a good nose for wine, and I asked myself “why can’t I move from serving to creating wine?” I had been creating cocktails, working with wine and fairly knowledgeable about wine, I thought I had the skill set to be one. I then proceeded to apply to become one at Stellenbosch University and to my surprise I was accepted.

The decision to follow through with it was a tough one, I had doubt, I was too old, but in the end I told myself “you’re a creative, you’re not meant to spend your life serving others at a dining table” and during my first harvest I realised I had made the right decision as sometimes I would have this cheeky smile on my face, it was because I realised I had found my passion in life and I don’t want to do anything else than make wine and be involved in this industry.

Describe your ideal job as a winemaker:
Ideally I would like to be situated and settled one day in the Stellenbosch region, other than that I don’t believe in an ideal job as with the responsibility of being a winemaker comes with many challenges from season to season and non-seasonal challenges such as the selling and marketing of wine to create a sustainable business, because at the end of the day your wine farm is a business and a business needs to make money. With that in mind I would ideally like to work on a farm that is financially independent of its sales, one that is sustainable and bio-dynamic, with a good cellar and vineyard team that work together as a family. I also realise that this is not an ideal world and sometimes you will be required to create those ideals within your farm and that it takes time, a long time to do so.

Knowing yourself as you do, what contribution do you think someone like you will make to the industry?
One of my colleagues once joked that I would probably be the first person from our class to win a “Wine personality of the year” award. I want to be a positive influence to the industry, I see myself as a problem solver, a perfectionist, a quiet patience and at times I can be innovative. These are the qualities I would like to instil to the industry in the future and to become a man of fortitude in the industry.

Kelsey Shungking – Protégé at Stellenzicht with CWG Member Louis Strydom From Parklands in Cape Town

Studied BScAgric Viticulture & Oenology at Stellenbosch University

Why have you chosen to study winemaking and to become a winemaker?
Although I only discovered this course was offered as a science degree shortly after school, the minute I found and chose this career path I have never looked back. When I think about my life in the wine industry, it is a sure fact to me and I never doubt my decision to follow this path. I am passionate about creativity and innovation and knew that I wanted to pursue a career which carries my fascination with science and how nature works. It is clear that this course offers me the opportunity to both express myself creatively and be challenged by science at the same time. I think being a winemaker is a very rewarding job where you can bring people together and make them happy with the product of your labour. Besides my passion for wine and the outdoors, working with a good team in the vineyard and in a cellar to problem solve, be innovative and work hard to create amazing wine does not seem like a job to me, but rather a great lifestyle.

Describe your ideal job as a winemaker:
I would love to involve a few of my classmates in my career plan where we work together to establish a wine farm known for development and empowerment as well as good quality wine. I feel with combined knowledge and strong team work, we can create quality wine which is both representative of our region as well as unique from typical wine styles through educated experimentation. I would like us to use our tertiary knowledge to educate and develop skills within our wine industry in order to create job opportunities and improve the knowledge and practical abilities of farm workers and winemakers who did not receive the same education as we did. My ideal job as a winemaker is to be actively involved in all aspects from harvest to bottling within my wine farm while educating as much as possible and reaching out to upcoming farms and winemakers in order to make an impact within the industry.

Knowing yourself as you do, what contribution do you think someone like you will make to the industry?
I have a great desire to help people and assist them in their difficulties. I feel that this sets me apart from most as I am not looking to only advance myself in the industry but I am looking to take my generation of upcoming winemakers and work for us all to move together to improve and extend the South African wine industry as a whole. To be successful you need a team of other successful people to support you and collaborate with in order to achieve your goals and this is exactly what I would like to work towards. I would like to experiment and bring new innovative styles and methods of winemaking to the industry by travelling, networking and bringing back the unknown or undiscovered to South Africa. Our industry is blossoming and I’d like to help continue its exponential growth.

Third Years
 Elouise Kotze – Protégé at Hartenberg with Carl Schultz
 Gynore Fredericks – Protégé at Mullineux Family Wines with Andrea Mullineux
 Morgan Steyn – Protégé at De Grendel with Charles Hopkins
 Anné Matthee (Viticulture) – Protégé at Hartenberg with Carl Schultz

Tickets for the 2019 Nedbank CWG Showcase can be purchased via www.webtickets.co.za at R400 per person, including a tasting glass. For more information, please visit http://nedbankcwg.co.za.

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