The sweet taste of success

2016-05-24 06:00
Clayton Christians, Mahalia Kotjane, Kiara Scott.

Clayton Christians, Mahalia Kotjane, Kiara Scott.

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Excitement is mounting amongst second year Cape Winemakers Guild protégés as the dream of making their first wines becomes a reality with their creations safely in barrel after the 2016 harvest.

Making their own wines is a vital part of the Guild’s Protégé programme and has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of French oak barrels by the Cape Cooperage Group for the past six years.

In addition to the barrel donation, the Paarl based Cape Cooperage Group assists the Protégés by guiding them through their choice of barrels, helping them achieve the particular style of wine they wish to make. Other annual sponsors supporting this initiative are Consol Glass and Amorim Cork who donate the bottles and the corks for the Protégé wines. “I am truly honoured to be part of this successful programme. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing our contribution towards the wine industry being appreciated and used positively to shape its future. It gives me great pleasure to witness these hard working, humble and confident Protégés become our future winemakers,” says André Kotze, managing director of Cape Cooperage Group.

This year, three second-year interns, Clayton Christians, Kiara Scott and Mahalia Kotjane have been able to fulfil their dreams of crafting their own unique wines. This is an essential part of the three-year Protégé programme in addition to learning how to prepare budgets, production plans and marketing proposals. The protégés are taken on the whole winemaking journey – from the vineyard to the end product in the bottle.

With the guidance of Rianie Strydom at Haskell Vineyards, Clayton Christians is making a Chardonnay for which he has developed a great love.

“My palate favours Chardonnay above any other white grape variety. I am grateful that Cape Cooperage has given me the opportunity to experiment with a barrel which has not often been used in the industry and that it will underline the characteristics of my own wine,” says Clayton.

Fellow second year protégés, Kiara Scott and Mahalia Kotjane, will showcase their skills with Shiraz. The two young winemakers are excited to work with this diverse grape to create wines that represent their own individuality.

Kiara, who is based at De Grendel under the watchful eye of Charles Hopkins, has chosen Shiraz for its versatility. She strives to create a pure wine that expresses terroir and honest winemaking.

“Working at Cederberg last year and having experienced a harvest in Rhone, I feel confident about producing a good, terroir-driven wine. In the last two years my eyes have truly opened to the diversity of this grape variety,” says Kiara.

Mahalia Kotjane, with the guidance and knowledge of her mentor Carl Schultz at Hartenberg Estate, hopes that her wine will serve as a milestone for a successful future in the wine industry.

“This is my freedom of expression in a bottle of wine. Much like people, different styles of wine embody certain personalities. I have taken pride in ensuring that my personality, views and ideas are best expressed through this wine,” says Mahalia, who loves the complexity and elegance of a meticulously crafted Shiraz.

The thought of making their own wines that people can enjoy excites and motivates all three protégés. Their wines will be auctioned during their final internship year at Gala Dinners in Johannesburg and Cape Town and at the Silent Auction that takes place at the annual Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction.

The funds raised at these events are ploughed back into the Protégé Programme to support the development of future winemakers.

Established in 2006 under the auspices of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust, the CWG Protégé Programme gives aspirant winemakers and viticulturists the rare opportunity of working side by side with members of the Guild. By cultivating, nurturing and empowering promising individuals to become winemakers and viticulturists of excellence, the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme plays an active role in the long term health and sustainability of the industry.

V For more information on the Guild, call 021 852 0408 or email Students interested in applying for the Protégé Programme can visit

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