The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme, a trail blazer for transformation in the wine industry by mentoring and empowering aspirant winemakers and viticulturists, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
Driven by a vision to bring about transformation in the wine industry, the mentorship programme was founded in 2006 with the first protégé recruited in 2007. Over the past 10 years, a total of 20 protégés have come through the ranks, honing their skills while rubbing shoulders with giants in the industry. To date no less than 12 former protégés are pursuing promising careers in the wine industry – from private wine estates to larger corporate wine companies.
“The Cape Winemakers Guild is passionate about transforming our industry through cultivating and nurturing young winemakers of excellence. This is an ongoing process that needs to be supported by the wine industry. After ten years of the Protégé Programme we can look back at our success and say a job well done. This is, however, only a start and it is wonderful to see the support from our winemakers and our sector as a whole to change our industry today for tomorrow,” says Louis Strydom, chairman of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust.
Nedbank has supported the Protégé Programme from the onset: “Skills development forms part of Nedbank’s key strategic pillar as we believe that it plays a critical role in the socio-economic transformation of our country. It is against this backdrop that we continue to embark on this up-skilling journey designed to afford young individuals an opportunity to not only be exposed to the wine industry but to also acquire skills that will allow them to be key players in this sector,” explains Lindiwe Temba, Executive Head for Corporate Social Responsibility at Nedbank.
Whilst the bulk of the funds for the Protégé Programme are raised by the members’ various charity auctions, other sponsors include Amorim Cork, the Cape Cooperage Group, African Cellar Suppliers, Vinpro, Consol Glass, Hofmeyr Mills Auctioneers, Francois Naude, Cape Wine Auction and the Hermanus Music Society.
The Protégé Programme started out as a four year skills development initiative for oenology graduates, but was changed to a three year internship in 2009. In 2014 the programme was extended to give cellar workers access to formal training and education through a partnership between the Cape Winemakers Guild and Wine Training South Africa (WTSA). 2015 saw further expansion of the Protégé Programme into the vineyards, with the enrolment of the first viticulture protégé.
Over the span of the internship, each protégé is assigned to work alongside one of the members of the Guild for a one year period. During this year they are given first-hand experience of the inner workings of the cellar. During the course of their internship, every protégé is mentored by three members of the Guild. Over and above working in some of the most acclaimed cellars in South Africa, protégés are given ample opportunity to enrich their winemaking experience even further – from annual exchange programmes to some of the world’s famous wine regions, to being judges at various wine competitions.
“Over the three year period, the Protégés have the opportunity to develop their skills while being exposed to different terroirs and styles of wine. This gives them invaluable experience and a firm foundation upon which to build their careers,” adds Strydom.
Making their own wine is a requirement in their second year and enables the protégés to give back to the industry when the wines are auctioned at gala dinners and at the silent auction at the annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction. All funds raised by the protégé wines are ploughed back into the Protégé Programme, thereby completing the circle of supporting the development of future winemakers and viticulturists.
The 2016 Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction takes place at Spier in Stellenbosch on 1 October.
For more information on the Guild, call 021 852 0408; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org\.
Oenology and Viticulture students interested in applying for the Protégé Programme can visit the Guild’s website at www.capewinemakersguild.com.