Nederburg Auction’s first auctioneer, Patrick Grubb MW, set up a Bursary Initiative to help individuals from previously disadvantaged communities working in the wine industry to gain experience in some of the world’s great wine regions. 

The baton has now passed to current incumbents, Anthony Barne MW of Bonhams and David Elswood of Christies, who, keen to make their own contribution, have collaborated with the auction in a related programme, one with a long-term goal. 

Nederburg Auctioneers

The Nederburg Auction – Auctioneers Bursary Initiative aims to identify young viticulturists with excellent potential. After a detailed selection process, the chosen third year student studying a BSc majoring in Viticulture and Oenology, will receive his or her full tuition fees through to graduation. In order for the Nederburg Auction selection committee to focus on mentoring, the bursary will be offered every two or three years, the next one in 2019.

Viticulture was singled out as a discipline needing focus in the industry, though the bursary holder will also be given opportunities within Distell to work with winemakers, marketers and innovators.

The first recipient, out of four Stellenbosch University candidates put forward based on merit and financial circumstances, is Azolile Khoncoshe. Elsenburg and CPUT will be invited to submit names in future.

Azolile Khoncoshe

Khoncoshe comes from East London, where, as a young child he loved to plant vegetable seedlings his mother bought him. His real love of agriculture was nurtured at Tsholomnqa High School, a small, rural  village to the west of East London. ‘I studied it as a main subject in the years up to my matric, though I had no idea in what sector I’d end up,’ Khonsoshe remembers. Back then, he knew nothing of viticulture and wine but his agriculture teacher advised Khoncoshe to pursue either veterinary science or oenology; researching the latter, it stirred his interest, but then he was too late to apply for Stellenbosch. For a year he read Biotechnology at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, before moving to Stellenbosch to read a BSc Agric degree in 2014. 

Understanding how vines function and interact with the environment are some of the attractions of viticulture for Khoncoshe. ‘They are not greedy about water or nutrients but one needs to understand their physiology because they’re also sensitive. My wish is to see vines planted and enjoy their harvest from other provinces.’ 

Khoncoshe regards this bursary as a great honour; ‘It will help me establish my dreams. I hope it will also help the industry; I’d like to see it reach out to other black people who know nothing about viticulture or winemaking.’ 

Outlining the initiative’s purpose, Anthony Byrne MW, summarises: ‘In the last decade or so, South African wines have taken their place among the world’s finest. To stay at the top, the Cape needs to invest in future generations of talented viticulturists and winemakers. I’m very pleased to be able to play a small part in achieving this goal.’ While David Elswood enthusiastically notes: ‘I’m thrilled to see it’s already reeling positive results.’


-Angela Lloyd