The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme, a mentorship initiative which gives aspirant winemakers the rare opportunity to work side by side with some of the country's finest, has swelled its ranks to seven this year with the recruitment of three new Protégés.
The Guild's three new Protégés, all graduates in Cellar Technology at Elsenburg Agricultural College, are Wade Sander from Johannesburg, Thornton Pillay of Durban and Ricardo Cloete from Steinkopf in Namakwaland.
Wade, who completed his studies with assistance from the Cape Winemakers Guild Billy Hofmeyr SETA Bursary Programme last year, joins master craftsman Etienne Le Riche in the cellar. Thrilled to be selected as a Protégé, Wade enjoys the practical aspect of hands-on work in a cellar. "I look forward to being able to bottle my first vintage and to influence the character and structure of the wine with my own creativity and expression."
Thornton, who will be put through his paces at Ernie Els Wines under the watchful eye of Louis Strydom, has big dreams to make a name in the winemaking industry. "I've always had an interest in agriculture and winemaking with a genuine passion to become a role model some day. Being a part of this programme is an honour for me and a fantastic kick-start for my future plans."
Determined to become a successful winemaker, Ricardo will be learning his craft under the mentorship of Abrie Beeslaar at Kanonkop. "Being selected as a Protégé is the ideal foundation to become one of South Africa's most successful winemakers," says Ricardo.
All the Protégés have the opportunity to make their own wine during their three year internships as a result of generous sponsorships from various suppliers. Every year Cape Cooperage provides wine barrels for the maturation, whilst Consol Glass and Amorim Cork donate the bottles and corks for the Protégé wines.
"With the shifting of priorities towards sustainability in terms of communities and the environment, we as the Cape Winemakers Guild need to assist the local wine industry in achieving these objectives. We are therefore indebted to our suppliers for their generous support of our Protégé Programme," says Guild Chairman Jeff Grier.
The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme was launched in 2006 under the auspices of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust with the goal of bringing about transformation in the wine industry by cultivating, nurturing and empowering promising individuals to become winemakers of excellence.
The Cape Winemakers Guild Billy Hofmeyr SETA Bursary Programme pays tribute to the Guild's first founding chairman. The first Guild meeting took place over 30 years ago at the Hofmeyr's home on the farm, Welgemeend, in Paarl on 24 August 1982.