Wine as A Fountain of Youth

As South Africa commemorates Youth Day in June, we consider 16 Young People who are making waves in the wine industry.

On June 16 1976 South African youth arranged a peaceful protest in Soweto in defiance of the violent and restrictive regime that had been imposed upon them.

The derogatory Bantu Education Act of 1953 deeply impacted the development and freedom of school children. In 1974, the Bantu Education Department imposed Afrikaans as an equal medium of instruction, alongside English, upon learners in secondary schools. In response, on June 16 1976, around 10,000 school children, organized by the South African Students Movements Action Committee, arranged a peaceful demonstration against the government’s directive. The youth who marched on June 16 were met with teargas and live ammunition by police.

In democratic South Africa, the June 16 holiday serves as a haunting reminder of the past and a beacon for the future.

When commemorating Youth Day, there are various reasons not to consider the current role of youth in South Africa’s democratic industry and society.

Firstly, shifting focus on the nexus of Youth Day reframes the pain of the past. However, it is arguably ahistorical not to acknowledge the power of the history in relation to the future.

In addition, focusing on the achievements of youth does not give voice to the wisdom that is garnered from greying hair. From time-defying face-creams to look younger, to age-reversing whisky-goggles, society is dizzied by youth. However, not giving voice and platforms to young voices hampers the necessity of giving young people a seat at the table.

South Africa’s wine industry has been challenged to give voice to diverse actors in various roles. A radical shift in representation has rippled throughout the industry, because representation matters. As Marian Wright Edelman imparted: “you cannot be what you cannot see.”

16 Youth in South African Wine to Watch

  1. Cape Winemakers Guild Proteges

Heinrich Kulsen, Wade Sander, Gynore Fredericks, Elouise Kotze, Mahalia Kotjane, Morgan Steyn and Roger Cloete are among 30 of viticulturists and oenologists who have risen through the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme’s ranks. The three-year-long Programme is an internship that gives aspirant winemakers and viticulturists the opportunity to work alongside members of The Guild. This empowering Programme drives transformation through a valuable transfer of knowledge and skills from some of South Africa’s most respected winemakers.

  1. Rudger van Wyk

Rudger van Wyk was awarded the 2018 Diner’s Club Young Winemaker of the Year Award. Rudger is a former Nedbank CWG Protégé and works at Stark-Condé as a winemaker.

  1. Dr Erna Blancquaert

Dr Erna Blancquaert is the first black South African to hold a PhD in viticulture.

  1. Praisy Dlamini

Praisy Dlamini was the first woman to graduate from the Nedbank CWG Protégé Programme. Praisy has worked as an assistant winemaker at Zonnebloem, and subsequently worked at Anchor Yeast. She is the winemaker and general manager of Adama Wines.

  1. Natasha Williams

Natasha Williams was appointed as the Junior Winemaker at Bosman Wines in 2018. Natasha is celebrated for her work in sustainable winemaking. Natasha is a consultant winemaker for Adama Wines, an affiliate of Bosman Adama.

  1. Tania Kleintjies

Tania Kleintjies, known to her Instagram followers as ‘the leggy wino’, was appointed as Spier’s assistant red winemaker in 2007. Tania has completed her MSc(Agric) in Oenology and has been responsible for Spier’s organic wine range since 2016.

  1. Dumisani Mathonsi

Dumisani Mathonsi has traveled the world and worked in harvests worldwide, from France to California. His rich experiences have extended to an enviable career in South African wine. Dumisani worked as the assistant winemaker at Tokara, alongside winemaker Miles Mossop, and was appointed as the lead white winemaker at Zonnebloem. Dumisani’s pioneering career was profiled in the book and subsequent film, The Colour of Wine.

  1. Banele Vakele

Banele Vakele is a record-breaking Cape Winemakers Guild(CWG) Protégé. Tembela, the CWG Protégé wine that Banele crafted and named after his mother fetched R50,000 at the 2018 Nedbank Protégé Auction. These funds helped to fund the apprenticeship of future Proteges.

  1. Natasha Boks

Natasha Boks has established a rich career, including a role as the white winemaker at Nederburg, alongside cellarmaster, Andrea Freeborough. Natasha’s entrepreneurial efforts have led her to found NBW Consulting. Her companies focus on wine production in South Africa and wine exports throughout Africa.

  1. Bonang Matheba

Media entrepreneur, Bonang Matheba coined the phrase ‘champagne, darling!’ Sparkling into global wine, Bonang founded the House of BNG with Cape grapes and became the first black woman to become a member of the Cap Classique Producers Association.

  1. Llwellyn Lambert

In 2018, Llwellyn Lambert clinched the coveted Veritas Young Wine Writer of the Year Award. For over a decade, Lllwellyn has worked in the hospitality industry. As the curator of a high street hotel in Franschhoek, Lllwellyn has served as an ambassador for winelands travel. His nuanced views are widely followed through his blog, Hospitality Hedonist.

  1. Toasted Barrels

Johannesburg-based wine agency, Toasted Barrels was founded by Michael Khoza and Clive Hlabithi in 2017. The agency represents a variety of producers and is an increasingly popular distributor to an array of consumers.

  1. Spider Pig Wine

In 2015, wine industry professionals, David Nel and David Wibberly founded Spider Pig Wine. Through partnerships with some of South Africa’s most respected winemakers, David-squared have elevated their slick marketing. Many of their customers who grew up watching Spider Man in their pyjamas on a Saturday, shop for Spider Pig ‘merch’ like trucker-caps online. Wear your Spider Pig cap to brunch on Saturday, where you’ll pour a glass of Spider Pig Bro/Zay Rose? Slick.

  1. Illimis Wines

Viticulturist, Lucinda Heyns, has clarity. Lucinda has worked as a viticulturist for Jordan and Mulderbosch, and has worked in California. Lucinda is also the founder of Illimis Wines. Illimis, the Latin word for clarity, is a clear indication of Lucinda’s prowess.

  1. Gerhard Claasens

Gerhard Claasens has worked as a Public Relations Officer, CSI Controller and Sustainability Officer for Distell. Some of the projects Gerhard and the Distell team have worked to support include The Fleur du Cap Theater Awards, the Nederburg Qhubeka bicycle assembly facility, J.C. Le Roux’s work with The Sunflower Foundation and a breadth of uplifting initiatives.

  1. Mira Weiner

Mira Weiner is the co-owner of McGregor Country Getaways and the founder of Hot Oven. Through her work with Hot Oven, Mira has galvanised destination marketing, encouraging multi-generational travelers to #visitlangeberg.


Left to right on image: Gynore Fredericks, Morgan Steyn, Elouise Kotze


- Blog by Tshepang Molisana