Cape Winemakers Guild Protégés pay it forward for transformation.

An intriguing collection of wines crafted by young, gifted winemakers during their internship with the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme, empowers leaders of tomorrow to give back to this highly successful skills development initiative.

These wines made by the Guild’s Protégés during their second year, are auctioned at various gala dinners, in addition to the silent auction at the annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction, taking place in Stellenbosch on 3 October this year. The funds raised are ploughed back into the Protégé Programme to support the development of future winemakers.

Established in 2006, the Guild’s Protégé Programme plays an active role in the transformation of the industry to ensure its long term health and sustainability. The Programme has already recruited a total number of 17 young winemakers with no less than nine graduates currently working in the wine industry. Under the mentorship of members of the Guild and the patronage of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust, Oenology and Viticulture protégés are cultivated, nurtured and empowered to become masters of their craft while enjoying the rare opportunity of working side by side with leaders in the industry.

“As a bank committed to being highly involved in the communities we serve, we have contributed over R3 million towards this initiative. The Protégé Programme enables us to empower individuals while contributing to the transformation of the wine industry. We are humbled by the progress and milestones of this programme and, year after year, look forward to experiencing the remarkable work of these young talented individuals.” explains Kone Gugushe, Divisional Executive for Corporate Social Responsibility at Nedbank.

The production of their own wines is an integral part of the three-year Oenology internship. The Protégés are exposed to all of the tasks required in producing wine such as preparing budgets, production plans and marketing proposals. This helps them experience the entire process, from the creative side to the business side.

This year’s Protégé wine collection comprises a Pinot Noir from the Hemel en Aarde Valley, a Pinotage from the Durbanville Wine Valley and a Muscat de Frontignan from Constantia – all from the 2014 vintage.

Wade Sander who was fortunate to craft his “The Starling” Pinot Noir alongside his mentor, Peter Finlayson, a true aficionado of this grape variety, graduates from the Protégé Programme this year. He is set on broadening his exposure to foreign wine regions and winemaking techniques that he can apply in his own wines when the time comes.

“The Protégé Programme has been the most important learning experience of my young career,” says Wade. “It has exposed me to a number of different regions and cultivars under the guidance of some of the country’s most renowned winemakers. It has given me perspective and a good understanding of the industry and has equipped me to make informed decisions moving forward.”

Ricardo Cloete, also in his final year, worked closely with Charles Hopkins at De Grendel to craft his Alfa Pinotage from his absolute favourite grape variety “because of its wonderful aromas, flavours and above all, because it is proudly South African.” Ricardo has big dreams to become a great winemaker and future mentor as well as for the country as a whole and hopes to see it become the world’s leading wine producer.

Besides making his own wine, a first international harvest in Burgundy, France in 2014 and presenting wines for his mentor David Finlayson of Edgebaston Family Vineyards at the London Wine Fair earlier this year, count among his most memorable experiences as a Guild Protégé.

Thornton Pillay, who is already a fulltime winemaker at KWV Wines, worked closely with Boela Gerber at Groot Constantia when he made his natural sweet, wooded “Delos” Muscat de Frontignan, inspired by the historic estate’s great sweet wine legacy.

This year the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme extended its intake to include the first viticulture intern alongside three new winemaker Protégés. The first candidate for the two and a half year CWG VinPro Viticulture Protégé Programme is Logan Jooste, a BSc Viticulture graduate from the University of Stellenbosch. The three new 2015 Oenology Protégés, all graduates of Elsenburg Agricultural College, are Mahalia Matshete, of Vosloorus in the East Rand, Clayton Christians of Cloetesville in Stellenbosch, and Kiara Scott of Strandfontein, Mitchell’s Plain.

Visit www.capewinemakersguild.com.

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