Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Young Winemakers head for France on Burgundy Exchange Programme

From left to right, Elmarie Botes (3rd year Protégé), Louis Strydom (Chairman of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust), Kone Gugushe (Divisional Executive for Corporate Social Responsibility at Nedbank), Johan Coetzee (Head of Ministry for Agriculture & Rural Development Western Cape) and Heinrich Kulsen (2nd year Protégé).

The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme, a mentorship initiative which empowers young, aspirant winemakers by working alongside some of the country’s finest, will be sending two of its Protégés to France this year on the Western Cape Burgundy Exchange Programme.

Elmarie Botes and Heinrich Kulsen, the first Protégés to take part in the exchange programme from 16 September to 11 October 2013, will be enrolled at the Centre of Vocational Training and Agricultural Promotion (CFPPA) in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy.

“This is the first year that our Protégés will be going on the Burgundy Exchange Programme and we are working towards a more formalised agreement so that all our Protégés will have the chance to participate in this amazing opportunity to further their development and international winemaking experience,” says Louis Strydom, Chairman of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust.

Back row: Thornton Pillay (1st year Protégé), Ricardo Cloete (1st year Protégé), Wade Sander (1st year Protégé), Heinrich Kulsen (2nd year Protégé). Front row: Tamsyn Jeftha (Protégé graduate), Chandré Petersen (2nd year Protégé), Howard Booysen (Protégé graduate), Praisy Dlamini (Protégé graduate), Elmarie Botes (3rd year Protégé). Absent: Philani Shongwe (2nd year Protégé)

Sponsored by the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust since 2006, the Protégé Programme is a three year internship programme which seeks to transform the wine industry by cultivating and nurturing promising individuals to become winemakers of excellence.  The Protégés are mentored by members of the Guild who provide them with essential hands-on skills and experience.          
“Our participation in the Protégé Programme was inspired by the need to help transform the South African wine industry by empowering talented young people from historically disadvantaged communities to enter this profession,” says Kone Gugushe, Divisional Executive for Corporate Social Responsibility at Nedbank.

The Programme has grown in stature over the years and currently has seven participating Protégés. To date, the programme has produced four graduates who are all forging successful career paths for themselves in the wine industry.

“The Protégé Programme inspires young winemakers to reach their full potential through mentorship giving them an environment where they can thrive. As graduates of the University of Stellenbosch and Elsenburg Agricultural College they have the skills to be winemakers, but the Protégé Programme gives them the opportunity to develop the passion that every member of the Guild has, to make exceptional wines and become fine winemakers,” adds Strydom.  
Established in 2001 in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, the Thuthukile Skweyiyta Western Cape Burgundy Exchange Programme offers individuals the opportunity to gain international experience in viticulture and cellar technology and to further their personal and career development.

The exchange programme is jointly managed by CFPPA and Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch and operates within a larger co-operation agreement between the Western Cape provincial government and Burgundy with the aim of strengthening academic and economic ties between these two wine growing regions.  
In conjunction with the formal learnership path of the Burgundy Exchange Programme, Botes, who is currently working under the mentorship of Guild member Gary Jordan of Jordan Wines, and Kulsen, who is working alongside Guild Chairman Jeff Grier at Villiera, will also get their hands dirty on various small family-owned wine estates throughout the French wine growing region. Here they will gain valuable insight into the French food and wine culture and put their practical knowledge gained through their participation in the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme to good use.

For more information on the Cape Winemakers Guild, contact Tel: 021 852 0408 or send an email to Follow @CapeWinemakersG on Twitter. Students interested in applying for the Protégé Programme can visit the Guild’s website at