Mentorship makes the difference for Berene Sauls of Tesselaarsdal

Many successful people in business had a mentor in their career who assisted them to reach their full potential and provide them with sound, honest guidance.  Mentorship provides a knowledgeable sound board and is a source of experienced advice to propel growth in a mentees’ journey.  The SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) believes in the positive effect of mentorship, and asked Berene Sauls and Anthony Hamilton Russell to share their journey as encouragement to others.

When Anthony Hamilton Russell, owner of Hamilton Russell Wines, appointed Berene Sauls as au pair for his four daughters in 2001, he quickly realized her ambition and talents were wasted and encouraged her to apply for a position in his wine company.

With his vast experience of running the wine farm for the last 30 years, as well as his background in investment banking and management consulting, Anthony mentored Berene and steered her towards developing a career in the wine industry.

Berene’s interest in wine was ignited by the wine tastings and presentations Anthony exposed her to.  His faith in her abilities gave her the edge she needed to take the plunge of creating her own wine brand. “She clearly had the drive, ambition, intelligence and overall work ethic to make a success of her own wine brand and take it even further towards land ownership” says Anthony.

“In 2014 Anthony approached me with an opportunity to wholly own my own business as a wine producer with the expert winemaking skills of Emul Ross who joined our team in that same year”, says Berene. “It is a team effort from which I am still learning, sound boarding and getting guidance from to develop and steer my professional career.”

Berene started at the bottom and worked her way to the top, gaining experience in marketing, packaging, export logistics, wine administration and certification before mastering the art of winemaking and the sensory evaluation of wine.  This gives her the competitive edge she uses to advance her business.

“Her skills and personality gave me little doubt that she would be able to get a wine both made and sold at a profitable price. Most people starting out focus entirely on production, and however important it is, this is by far not the only criterion for success,” says Anthony.

Berene has been inspired by Anthony’s mentorship and pays it forward by developing the skills of the ladies who are working with her in the packaging logistics division.  “Once my property in Tesselaarsdal in the Overberg is developed, I would like to offer someone else the same opportunities I had.  That is my ultimate goal,” says Berene.

Partnerships key to business’s success!

Despite the challenges facing the South African alcohol industry at the moment, there are good news stories.  Bayede! Marketing, a level two BBBEE company based in Paarl, is one such example. Says CEO, Antoinette Vermooten, “2020 made us streamline our business to save on costs. We also changed our sales strategy and put significant efforts into our online store and exports.”

Bayede!, endorsed by the late HM King Goodwill Zwelithini, is a diverse business, selling liquor, coffee, olive oil and vinegar. Vermooten further explains, “We value relationships and with our partners we have been able to survive the three alcohol sales bans and even seen some growth and created employment.”

Long-time industry partners Van Loveren Vineyards, Imbuku and Oude Molen Distillers have been key to Bayede’s recent endeavours. The Joint Venture partners support their job creation initiatives.

Bayede! sources the ethnic beadwork it uses to embellish its products, from 25 women across rural South Africa. Antoinette elaborates, “I believe in women empowerment and the principle of “Ubuntu”. The monies from the beadwork are their only source of income.” A boon for its job creation projects was the recent inclusion of beaded neckpieces in the USA based Mana boxes. A Mana box consists of handmade lifestyle goods created by women from the USA and South Africa and is sold as a subscription.

Another partner is the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU). “The emotional support received from Operations Manager, Wendy Petersen since the start of the pandemic has been invaluable”, says Vermooten “and the financial support helped us to quickly pivot and develop our export business”. SAWITU supports black-owned wine brands and generates and promotes equitable access within the wine value chain.  “In order to stay abreast, brands must find innovative ways of doing business, try different ways of connecting with consumers and invest in long- term focused initiatives and agreements that will result in business growth and sustainability,” says Petersen.

Bayede! has fulfilled orders across the globe over the last couple of months for its liquor products, with deals from the USA, Canada, Germany, UAE, Ethiopia, India and China.

“We are very proud that our Bayede! King Shaka Zulu Pinotage and Chenin blank as well as our Bayede! Royal XO Cape Brandy received double gold medals in the Michelangelo International Wine and Spirits Competition,” says Vermooten.

Although the uncertainties of the pandemic will continue to influence business decisions, the future looks very promising for this dynamic brand.

Interview with Koni Maliehe

Koni Maliehe, owner of Koni Wines, is a feminine tour de force.  Leaving the Financial Services scene, she wanted to explore a new world and soon made in-roads in the wine industry.

We asked Koni a few questions to get a sense of where she’s at and what drives her.

Who is Koni and what makes her “tick”?

“Koni is an Entrepreneur, Daughter, Sister and Aunt. I am surrounded by people who believe in my dreams and goals. A favourite quote is “Dreams only die if you let them starve”.

I am shaped by principles of hard work, courage, honesty, respect, and inclusivity and believe that all humans given a chance, can be great! To be great comes with responsibility to also serve others and inspire them to do the same!”

What gets you going in the morning?

“Besides my quiet time, I read a lot. I read a variety of topics that support and edifies me and my business.

On the work front, I believe in planning and revisit my weekly objectives and revise accordingly – then put ACTION into it.”

What makes you laugh?

“I am always the loudest in the room, especially when there is humour, joy, and positive energy! I also make a habit of laughing at myself…and there are so many wicked stories to laugh at!”

What is your biggest fear?

“My biggest fear is that time is limited. Time is also a gift, but life is short!  We only have limited moments to achieve results and do better than yesterday.

So, I fear losing focus on the bigger picture and being caught up on un-productive issues that adds no value to my vision.”

What makes you love what you do?

“One of the reasons I started the business was to stretch myself into newness, I was tired of the known and wanted to totally learn something new. Wine is a challenging, slow business.

I have great respect for those in the industry and greatly admire those who, like myself, had to self-fund their business from inception and persevered through the hardships.

There is so much effort and investment that went into the business that to give up is not a choice!”

Tell us about your customers? 

“My ideal customer is the affluent market who are experienced wine drinkers. I also work on converting non wine drinkers who may be intimidated by wine language and culture.

A key success factor has been partnering with corporates that serve my wine at their functions and present it as gifts to guests. Relationship building is a skill that has and continues to serve me well!”

What has been the reasons for your success?

“Business is about relations, networking and achieving results. Most of my big breaks came from referrals but getting marketing support and market access opportunities from organisations such as the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit surely makes a great difference.

Positive energy speaks loud and actions even louder! It is simple really, surround yourself with people who know more than you!”

How did the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit assist you with business growth?

SAWITU assisted my business with Financial Marketing & Mentorship Support and this played a huge role in relaunching my business in 2020.  Support such as this plays a massive role for us SME’s who are self-funded.  SAWITU also assisted with market access where Koni Wines was able to participate in some international & local wine events such as Tops Wine Shows.

With entities such as SAWITU more black wine businesses will be afforded an opportunity to excel and grow.

What lies ahead for Koni Wines? 

Having been selected as a participant in Hollard’s Big Ads for Small Business campaign, with the aim to drive sales and brand awareness, we have been working hard on our strategy to align with the campaign and really take advantage of this “miraculous” break. Koni Wines will be featured on DSTV, Good Hope FM and a billboard.

Also, more collaborations are in the pipeline, so things are very exciting at last!”

What is your advice to business owners?

“Remove self-entitlement from your attitude.  Be driven by values rather than personal gain.

Put extra effort and hard work into it.”

Koni Wines is a very good illustration of the dedication and perseverance it takes from the owner in achieving her dreams. The journey of developing a sustainable wine company and wine brand is not an easy one and requires a focused strategic plan with clear, achievable and realistic goals. We are excited about the Koni Wines journey and future prospects.

Month of Love – Malmsey and Diale Rangaka

“in for a penny, in for a pound“

Malmsey and Diale Rangaka, owners of M’Hudi Wines, have taken their marriage vows to heart and incorporated it into their business lives. They do not see their personal lives as separate but rather embrace their togetherness in life. The two have been married for 46 years and have been generating their own income for the last 36 years.

They flourish in their different roles at M’Hudi.  Malmsey is the CEO and handles finances, while Diale oversees the farm management, Human Resources, Public Relations and Marketing.

Diale describes Malmsey as warrior queen, Nzhinga, a historical Royal from the Matamba people of present-day Angola.  Queen Nzhinga fought against the encroachment of the Portuguese’s attempt to control the slave trade in South West Africa and is remembered for her intellect, wisdom and brilliant military tactics. Says Diale, “Malmsey is a fiercely protective matriarch!”.

Malmsey has leant that Diale has a strong commitment to the economic emancipation of South Africa’s black people and works to see our country attain and maintain its economic leadership on the African continent.

Bringing their different strengths to their relationship has been their recipe for success. Malmsey is methodical, ensuring efficient business operations while providing a high-quality product. Diale admires Malmsey’s compassion, fortitude, and resilience.

Diale can make Malmsey laugh even in the most serious of circumstances but being comical or “Pathologically unserious” as Malmsey describes him does not detract from his ability to being a strong researcher and marketing expert.

Whenever Malmsey and Diale experience challenges in their business, they always remember that family comes first.  They are building a legacy for their family, which is much more important and rewarding than just making profits.

Their favourite quote for the month of love is one from Paul Valery, “Love is being stupid together” and their advice for any couple is to work on staying in love and building memories together.

Month of Love – Bunty and Wahed Khan

“we dream together”

Bunty and Wahed Khan dreamed of starting their own business when they retire from corporate life, but this came earlier than expected.  When Wahed was transferred to Cape Town, Bunty put her career on hold to settle their family.

Surrounded by the beauty of the Western Cape, the Winelands, with its diverse people inspired them to venture into wine. The dream of creating a product that could be shared with the world is how Cape Dreams came to life!

Bunty started the company in 2008 with Wahed joining her full time 4 years later.  They understood that it would take many years of immense dedication and hard work to build their business into an internationally recognized brand, but their commitment and support from family made them push through.

Bunty and Wahed work closely together by sharing responsibilities and always consulting about what’s going on across the business.  Their strategic planning is done jointly, but Bunty is responsible for legal matters, marketing, travel and IT while Wahed takes care of finance and admin. Each develops their own set of customers.

The most important thing they learned about each other is that they have different ways of looking at life, but their shared core values and beliefs make their relationship work.  Bunty and Wahed’s commitment to each other helps them to face the many challenges and finding solutions to take their dream forward.

The two have quite different strengths in the business.  While Wahed is pragmatic, and focussed on numbers, Bunty is creative, bubbling with ideas, but gets things done and is a tough negotiator!

Always enjoying each other’s company, they maintain a healthy balance between working hard and spending time together and with their family.   They have a challenging Chess league going now that they have more time during lockdown!

What Wahed admires most is Bunty’s fun-loving, carefree and loving personality.  She has a clear set of values and is the main pillar of strength for the family. Bunty admires Wahed for his integrity and humility.  He is generous, kind, patient and selfless and gives her the confidence to achieve anything.

Their advice to other couples working together or thinking of starting a business together is:

Dream together – you may be different, but you can have the same dream

Respect each other, listen to each other and never let the business impact on your love for each other.

There will always be unexpected challenges so keep your focus on WHAT is right rather than WHO is wrong!

The couple have been married for 32 years and their favourite quote for the month of love is “Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along!” – Rumi

Month of Love – Malcolm and Cheryl Green

“together is our favourite place to be”

For Malcolm and Cheryl Green of La RicMal Wines, being in business together comes naturally, as both stem from entrepreneurial parents.

The couple agrees that although it was a very rough road in business in the early years and uncertainties always existed, the reward came in that humble meal they shared and from putting that plate on the table together!

Being entrepreneurs from an early age, they share a vision and drive for independence and unconventionality and are motivated by their faith and common vision for success.

Like the true definition of the “yin yang” Malcolm and Cheryl complement each other in the business and seamlessly fit into the roles that is expected at the time. Individually and as a team, they share their traits on different functional levels of decision making, negotiating and steering the business forward.

They learned that sharing different viewpoints on the same situation allows them to be critical and complimentary at the same time – and that a good laugh always lightens any situation!

The comfortable humor between them comes through when they each claim, with a sweet smile, that their strength lies in having each other’s back, like the saying goes “behind every successful man/women….”

Malcolm and Cheryl are childhood sweethearts who met in their teens.  Reminded that this is the month of love, they fondly remember getting married in the Emmanuel Cathedral in Kwazulu-Natal 42 years ago!  Their journey together taught them that applying the principles of matrimony to any business is a winning recipe. Their relationship is built on love, commitment, faithfulness, humility, patience, time (for each other), honesty, trust, communication and selflessness.

Month of Love – Meet Niklaas and Alfonsina Nkosi

“I’m lost without her…”

If there is one thing that life has taught us, is that time is precious and we much treasure our loved ones while we have the chance. 

For Niklaas Nkosi, his precious time with his dear wife Alfonsina came to an abrupt end when she suddenly passed away in December last year.

Niklaas remembers her as a strong woman who was very organized, running their household smoothly despite her full-time job.  But she made sure Niklaas did his part in the house.  In the evenings when they got home, the two would do the washing together.  Niklaas loved Alfonsina’s cooking – it’s the one thing he misses the most!

Sy kon soms lekker skel” (she sometimes scolded him) he says with a little giggle, “then I know I have to keep in line. But she always wanted what was best for me.”

She was a loving wife and caring mom for their two sons and left a huge void in their lives.  “I’m lost without her….I can’t explain how I feel…I miss her so much!”

The couple met in the Eastern Cape and was married for 16 years.  After Niklaas came to the Western Cape to find work, he went back to fetch Alfonsina.  “Ek het haar daar gaan loop haal” (I went to fetch her)

Niklaas, a Thokozani shareholder, works in the vineyards at Diemersfontein for the past 14 years.  Alfonsina joined the company 9 years ago, first as a casual worker and was later permanently employed.  The couple worked together in harmony and Niklaas was motivated by his wife’s calm demeaner and dedication to her work.

He finds it very difficult without her at work and at home but finds comfort in the beautiful memories she left behind.

WITU efforts assisting those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic

Ever mindful of the economic hardship occasioned by the drawn-out Covid-19 Pandemic, the South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) has provided a raft of support measures to the wine industry, in which it operates. Newly appointed Board Chair, Mr. Tshililo  Ramabulana committed SAWITU’s efforts and resources to a wide-reaching campaign to support, not only businesses in the sector, but farmworkers as well.

“Supporting our community is central to our agenda and with many of them falling on hard times, we had to step up and rise to the challenge,” said Ramabulana.

Over the past six months, SAWITU provided emergency Covid-19 relief to 15 qualifying Black-owned wine enterprises to the tune of R1.35m. In addition, 15 Black-owned farms received emergency relief totaling R450 000 over the next three months.

“Acutely aware of the importance of the farmworker in the value chain and the fact that many of them went unpaid for a considerable period of time, we rallied to the cry and provided more than R500 000 in support to farmworkers and farmworker communities in the past six months,” said SAWITU’s Transformation Operations Manager Wendy Petersen.

The majority of those affected and assisted by SAWITU were unemployed during the period and received no State support. “These communities were already mired in poverty, and with the unemployment caused by the pandemic, we took a decision to provide basic food security at the least,” added Petersen.

SAWITU worked closely with NPO’s in the various regions to ensure that the most vulnerable were identified. The relief efforts targeted the neediest of communities and spread across Wellington, Porterville, Saron, Montague, Rawsonville, Worcester and Robertson.

“This is the first round of our ongoing support to the industry and their communities and we will make even more effort to assist during these unprecedented economic hardships,” said Ramabulana.

Wendy Petersen, the Operations Manager of SAWITU has overseen and ensured that the relief efforts were recorded and accountable measures were in place.

Woman’s Month – Katy September

“With God in one hand, anything is possible,” says Katy September, reflecting on a life in which the hard knocks were overcome with faith and a will to succeed.

The recounting of her life is a veritable reflection of the challenges most female farmworkers encounter and a lesson in overcoming them. Her dream of joining the navy was thwarted early on in life, and like many young girls in the Cape winelands, she was forced to join her parents as farmworkers.

“Growing up on the Kromme Rhee Farm, I used to swim in the dams and developed a love for the water. In my final school year, I applied to join the SA Navy, in order to chart a new path for women of colour from the winelands,” she says nostalgically.

However, this dream was to be shattered as the young Katy fell pregnant and was forced into a young motherhood and a menial job on the neighbouring Simonsig Wine Estate.

“I was my grandmother’s child and it was a big disappointment to her and to my parents when this happened. However, my parents stood by me throughout my life and supported me and my children in whatever way they could,” she reflects with gratitude.

She was engaged for a short while, but on realising that the man she was to marry was also engaged to another, she threw her engagement ring into the lake, thus symbolically drowning her dream of joining the navy and of a happily married life.

“Although that hurt me deeply, I decided to make the most of my life and fend for my daughter. I am glad I am a woman. I’m the only one in my name and there is no one else like me,” she says, steadfastly.

Being raised by her grandmother, Katy developed a keen sense of keeping a clean house and to this day is fastidious. “I take pride and time in making sure my house is spotless, and have thankfully handed this down from my grandmother to my two daughters too.”

With the help of her parents, she got her first job in 1990 cleaning the cellar at Simonsig and scrubbing the bottling apparatus and plastic flexicans used to press grapes. It was a hard toil for which she was paid R45 per week. Her career started at the beginning of the bottling process and today she works in labelling and packaging. Katy’s love for her work and her fellow colleagues is what drives and motivates her.

She worked diligently in the cellar for more than a decade and represented the workers on the estate as their Shop Steward. In 2005, being acutely aware of the challenges faced by farmworkers in the winelands, she joined the Sikhula Sonke Trade Union. Sikhula Sonke is a women-led, independent farmworkers union. Its focus includes issues such as labour rights, domestic violence, food insecurity and alcohol abuse.

“I joined Sikhula Sonke as a recruiter and worked tirelessly building the subscriber base to make it a voice of the farmworkers in general and women in particular,” she says, proudly.

The campaigning involved lots of weary travel, with her three young daughters in tow. “I used to go to neighbouring farms and to winelands towns on my recruitment campaigns and was often forced to sleep over so as to maximise the impact of the recruitment campaign.”

In growing Sikhula Sonke, Katy rose steadily through the ranks to become its President. In her leadership role, she assisted in growing the membership to more than 5000 employed and unemployed workers including those living on farms in Stellenbosch, Grabouw, Villiersdorp, Franschhoek, Ceres, Rawsonville, Paarl and Wellington.

Reflecting on her role as a unionist, Katy recalls a campaign in 2009 as a highlight. “We launched a campaign in 2009 to boycott the National General Election. It was the No Land! No House! No Vote! Campaign,” she recalls, noting with regret that not much has changed regarding the circumstances of the farmworkers since.

Sikhula Sonke eventually folded and in 2017 Katy, together with other women labour activists launched the Society Development Trade Union, which today represents more than 4500 farmworkers in the Cape Winelands. Like many other union leaders in the industry, Katy was ‘marked’ and was often called to book for the most trivial of reasons, a battle she has had to contend with all her working life.

“Apartheid is still very much alive in the wine industry. Ironically, the previous generation of wine farmers were a little more caring towards their workers. I know this may sound like a generalisation, but the current crop of farmers is arrogant and seem to entrench the ‘ons en julle baasmanskap’. The ‘ou baas’ has been replaced by the ‘klein baas’.”

It was her former employer who enrolled her membership and paid her subscription for Women in Wine. Women in Wine was established and founded in 2006 by a group of twenty women, Katy being one of them. All of the members have backgrounds in the wine industry that had a common dream – giving women, especially farm workers and their families, a share in the industry.

Women in Wine only sources wine from farms that comply with socio-economic legislation with specific reference to ethical and environmental practices, employment conditions, skills development and training, as well as those that address aspects of Black Economic Empowerment.

Today, Women in Wine has a membership in excess of 200. This opportunity afforded Katy her first trip on board an aeroplane, and though it was a short flight to Kimberly, she remembers vividly the trepidation with which she boarded the flight. She was also exposed for the first time to wine tasting and the different cultivars, a lesson not many farmworkers are afforded. Also, it was her first experience in receiving a dividend and the ability to engage with annual financial statements, reflecting the real empowerment of her participation.

Katy is a natural mentor to younger women she comes into contact with. “We were raised in a community where we look out for each other. I often counsel young women and girls as if they are my own children.”

In defining her driving force, Katy is resolute that it is her three daughters, whom she raised single-handedly. “I live for my family and want to ensure that they have a better life than I did. Hopefully to create some means that could become the generational wealth we all dream of creating.”

– Nirode Bramdaw, African Sun Media

Woman’s Month – Jo-Anne Mettler

Jo-Anne Mettler exudes a charm, elegance and eloquence that is refl ective of her accomplished career, despite being forced to overcome challenges with grace.

Born in Cape Town, her family relocated to Zambia when Jo-Anne was just three, the eldest of four siblings. “It was shortly after Zambia’s independence and my Dad took advantage of a career opportunity and set the family into a self-imposed exile,” says Jo-Anne.

Reflecting on her early life in Zambia, Jo-Anne is grateful that her Dad took that very bold decision affording the family the right not to be deemed second-class citizens in the land of their birth.

“I was raised in a wonderfully cosmopolitan environment, where I had friends of every colour and nationality. My best friend was a Polish neighbour, Eva, whom I taught to speak English. She is still a friend and a lecturer at Cambridge University. I didn’t do too badly,” she says with
a broad, dimpled smile.

Even Afrikaners, who would not give the family the time of day back in South Africa, became fi rm friends. Whilst learning English and French at school, her battles with Afrikaans was just beginning. “My parents both spoke Afrikaans and my Dad was a worshipper in the Dutch Reformed Church, which also had a presence in Zambia. So, I had to do my catechism in Afrikaans from an English Bible.”

Her political consciousness grew with the family’s frequent interactions with ANC cadres in exile in Lusaka.

On completion of her A-Levels, young Jo-Anne opted to study at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, but the NGK dominee whispered in her father’s ear that sending her to the bastion of English academia was probably not the best idea. So instead she returned to Cape Town and enrolled for a degree in social work at the University of Western Cape. “Here however, the students were all Brown and the lecturers mostly white, and Afrikaans speaking. I remember asking a question in class and being told that I must go back to America by the Afrikaner lecturer,” she says frowning.

Whilst on a visit to Cape Town her father reasoned that if she wanted to make a difference in the lives of those she sought to uplift, that it would be most appropriate to do it in their mother tongue. A determined Jo-Anne persevered and armed with a Tweetalige Woordeboek and her textbooks, she soldiered on.

“Those were very politically charged days at UWC and I joined in the student protests, simply for the fact that apartheid went against my moral compass.”

It was whilst at UWC that Jo-Anne was interviewed for a bursary at KWV and was one of four students successful in landing the coveted bursary.

“Unfortunately, my Dad passed at the age of 50 whilst I was at University and the State confi scated his life savings, forcing my young Mom to fend for the family single-handedly. The bursary could not have come at a better time,” she says.

As was tradition at KWV, recipients of bursaries were hosted at an annual soiree with top management at the company’s stately headquarters in Paarl. “I remember entering those hallowed portals as a young girl and being taken by the fi ne woodwork, the art and décor, coupled with the
crystal glass and china and immediately fell in love with the surrounds. I love the fi ner things in life,” she smiles.

On completion of her studies, Jo-Anne was offered a position of Public Relations Offi cer at KWV, working in the Coloured Team. Here the Coloured employees were not allowed to use the cafeteria, and dare not use the tennis courts or pool, which was only opened to employeesof colour in 2002.

“I remember there was always a ‘ons en julle’ corporate culture and the Afrikaners even took umbrage if some of us became friends with our white colleagues. When I announced my intention to be married, an Afrikaner colleague asked how many children I have as it is Coloured culture to have children prior to marriage.”

It was corporate policy at KWV that the Public Relations staff were all to be single, so that they were able to travel on wine shows. So, her career in wine ended abruptly after five years.

She then sought employment at Truworths, successfully opening their Wellington store in 1990. She rose steadily through the ranks eventually to be promoted to the Adderley Street fl agship store. However, a criminal incident on a train back to her home in Wellington brought her career infashion to a head.

She returned to her love for the wine industry, being re-employed at KWV as cellar tour manager, where her love for the educational aspects of the industry took root. This led to a natural career progression into the Cape Wine Academy where she took charge of their Senior Kelderwerkers Programme and their Wine Ambassadors Course.

“I was a part of the initial fact-fi nding mission to Beaune and Paris and our recommendations led to the implementation of a programme which I am proud is still running today,” she recalls. The bi-lateral programme enables cellar personnel to experience a harvest in France and fast-track their winemaking knowledge and promotion potential despite not necessarily having formal viticulture and oenology training. “I consider the coming to fruition of this programme as one of my wine industry career highlights.”

From here she was to move to L’Ormarins Wine Estate and the Anthonij Rupert Wine range. Here she took charge of the estate, which was neglected after the unfortunate accident that claimed the life of Anthonij Rupert, putting her efforts towards re-establishing it as a leader in the wine and hospitality industry.

Whilst here she served two terms on the Annual SAA Wine Selection Panel and one term on the Diners Club Young Winemakers of the Year panel, serving alongside national and global wine afi cionados.

An illustrious career spanning 18 years with the Rupert Family, during which time she was thrilled to have met and hosted royalty and superstars at the estate, came to a close at the end of 2019, bowing out gracefully from a career in the wine industry spanning more than 30 years.

Looking back at her life’s journey, she says that there is much more work to be done. “We have to make much more effort to respect the role that the farmworkers play in the value chain. They are the backbone of the industry and play an equal, if not more vital, role as winemakers and
vintners.

“The access to the industry by women of colour needs to be addressed, because diversity is not a nice-to-have, it is a necessity that brings rewards for everyone involved. The narrative that many of us had to contend with is that if you are a woman of colour and successful, you’re labelled opportunistic, whilst the younger white colleagues are hailed as being ambitious. This must change. We must persevere,” she concludes, adding that she still has much work to do in working on the transformation agenda that is so critical right now.

– Nirode Bramdaw, African Sun Media