Barrel donation empowers CWG Protégés to make their own wines

Cape Cooperage, the Paarl based company which has empowered candidates participating in the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme to craft their own wines through the donation of French oak barrels, has extended its sponsorship by a further three years.

For the past four years, the Cape Cooperage Group has donated barrels to every second- year CWG Protégé. Their commitment to continue their support ensures that current and future Protégés will have the opportunity to experiment with their own wines.  Other annual sponsors supporting this initiative are Consol Glass, Amorim Cork and CDS Vintec who donate the bottles, corks and capsules for the Protégé wines. “We are proud to be a partner in the Guild’s Protégé Programme by helping these young winemakers fulfil their potential and to see the transformation of the wine industry come to fruition one barrel at a time,” says André Kotze, Managing Director of the Cape Cooperage Group. This year, three second-year Protégés will be making their own wines. Wade Sander will fulfil his dream of crafting his own Pinot Noir from two particular vineyard blocks under the expert guidance of Peter Finlayson of Bouchard Finlayson in the Hemel and Aarde Valley. “The style will be a dry table wine that reflects the terroir of where the grapes came from. To achieve this I will be using a lightly toasted French oak barrel that will complement and accentuate the natural flavours of the wine,” says Wade who is very grateful to Cape Cooperage for their generosity and expert advice. Ricardo Cloete who is working alongside Charles Hopkins at De Grendel this year, is making a Pinotage, a personal favourite because of its wonderful aromas, flavours and above all, because it is proudly South African. “I am very excited to see the results of the oak influence on the wine after a few months of barrel maturation. It will be interesting to see how this wine will age and change over time in the barrel,” says Ricardo. Thornton Pillay who is working with Boela Gerber at Groot Constantia has opted for a natural sweet, wooded Muscadel. “Motivated by what appears to be a lack of attention to sweet wine and the realisation that curry complements these wines, I hope to produce a natural sweet wine of great elegance and finesse. This will most certainly be a challenging task but it is my hope that people will be able to taste the love and passion that went into making it and that my wine will give people pleasure,” says Thornton. When it comes to selecting the right barrel to best attain the desired style and flavour profile of their wines, all three Protégés have worked very closely with Cape Cooperage. Types of oak and the degree of toasting have all been carefully considered to enable each Protégé to work with hand selected barrels that will produce the best results. The production of their own wine forms part of the Protégés’ three-year mentorship programme. Protégés are required to prepare budgets, production plans and marketing proposals for the wines they produce, in order to experience the entire process. The wines will be auctioned during their final internship year at Gala Dinners in Johannesburg and Cape Town and at the Silent Auction that takes place at the annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction. The funds raised are ploughed back into the Protégé Programme to support the development of future winemakers. Established in 2006 under the auspices of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust, the Protégé Programme gives aspirant winemakers the rare opportunity of working side by side with members of the Guild. By cultivating, nurturing and empowering promising individuals to become winemakers of excellence, the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme plays an active role in the transformation of the industry to ensure its long term health and sustainability. Guild members, all masters of their craft, are responsible for mentoring their protégés for a year and providing them with essential hands-on skills and experience in the art of winemaking. For more information on the Guild, contact Tel: 021 852 0408 or send an email to Students interested in applying for the Protégé Programme can visit the Guild’s website at