Tell us about the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégés Programme, and how you got involved in it.
The Protégé Programme is the only one of its class and calibre. It promotes transformation in the wine industry by giving promising students the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge from renowned winemakers in the South African wine industry.
Along with the Protégé Programme, the Cape Winemakers Guild in association with Nedbank also encourages students studying at Elsenburg Agricultural College and Stellenbosch University to sign up for a bursary, which covers the final year of study.
I was lucky enough to receive this bursary and after several interviews with the chairperson and members of the Guild, I then went on to join the Protégé Programme after graduating.
How did you get into wine-making? What was the attraction for you?
I was born and raised in Stellenbosch, which is best known for its rich history and culture in winemaking, yet within my community wine was still a foreign concept and I saw an opportunity to fill a gap and decided to pursue a career in winemaking. Hopefully my passion for wine and the science behind it will open doors for myself and my community.
The lifestyle of a winemaking career is what attracted me most. There’s nothing romantic about making wine, but to see your wine do well and to see how it brings masses of people of different worlds and cultures together, that’s what makes me happy.
Your mentor in the programme is Le Riche Wines’ Etienne le Riche. What is the experience like for you, and what have you learned from him?
Being under the guidance of Etienne le Riche is a very rewarding experience. Etienne is a master, particularly of Cabernet Sauvignon, and I’ve learned many things from him – the do’s and don’ts of winemaking, but most importantly I have learnt how to be a leader. You can’t be a true leader if you’re not willing to listen.
Le Riche Wines are known for their attention to detail and because of this I can confidently say that I am more precise than ever.
How do you see your career in wine-making evolving over the next few years? And what goals have you set yourself?
I would like to see my career move from strength to strength. My lifelong dream is to start my own label under my own name and to find a market that will support the style of wine that I want to create. The dream is always to do my own thing, my own way and to be completely independent.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to make it in the wine industry?
A love for what you do, hard work and endless hours of planning create a good winemaker and wine. Pursue your career by living it and not just going to work because it’s your job. Be passionate and inspired by what you do. Winemaking is a lifestyle and it only becomes better with time.