Protégé Programme grows appreciation for wine farming among school-leaving learners

Learners from across the country have been given a sneak peek into the world of winemaking through a partnership between the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme, Stellenbosch University (SU), Elsenburg College and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). Over the three-day programme learners were exposed to wine and grape sciences and encouraged to pursue careers in these fields.

Students who have been accepted to study at SU in 2020 and have a keen interest in viticulture and oenology attended the programme. Hailing from across the country, learners came from Mampoi High School in Mangaung; Bethel Secondary School; Nsikayendule High School in Ulundi; Edendale Technical High School in Pietermaritzburg; East London Science College; Phiriphiri Secondary School in Fondwe, Limpopo; Vryheid High School; Mahwetse Secondary School in Ga-Masemola, Limpopo and Gerrit Maritzz High School in Pretoria.

The programme which ran from Sunday 22 to Tuesday 24 September, offered learners a tour of the campuses, trips to local wine farms and industry visits. They were also educated on bursary options for further studies.
“Students are not always familiar with the agricultural industry and don’t see it as a viable career field which sometimes deters them from entering the sector. The aim of the programme is to change their views on agriculture and broaden their knowledge of the industry,” explains Magda Vorster, Protégé Programme Facilitator.
The Protégé Programme has established itself as the most successful skills development programme in the South African wine industry. Launched in 2007, the programme has enrolled 30 Protégés, 20 of whom are now working in the South African wine industry.

The programme, funded by the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust, aims to cultivate the next generation of award-winning winemakers, as well as empower students while promoting transformation within the industry.
“As a purpose led bank with a focus to impact society, we at Nedbank believe wholeheartedly in the importance of creating opportunities for South Africa's young people to mature, develop, and reach their full potential. And for this reason, we are 100% committed to giving our nation's young people as many opportunities as possible to learn, develop and become the leaders, entrepreneurs and champions of industry our country needs to take it forward on a sustainable growth path. 
“Our support of the CWG, and particularly its Protégé Programme exemplifies this commitment. We are also investing many millions of rands into a diverse cross section of other youth education, development and opportunity creation programmes, both within and outside of our bank”, says Lindiwe Temba CSI Executive Head at Nedbank.

During their three-year internship on the programme, each Protégé is mentored by a different member of the Guild for a period of one year, allowing them to learn the science and art of wine making and gain first-hand experience of the inner workings of the cellar. This knowledge is put into practice when second year Protégés produce their own wines and travel to France to further enhance their winemaking experience. 

Vorster adds that the agricultural sector as a whole needs the revival that young graduates from diverse backgrounds will bring.
“Ultimately, we hope to create transformation within the industry through the exposure offered to these student and learners,” concluded Vorster.

For more information, visit

- Positive Dialogue Communications