Michael Topkin, from Simon’s Town, is one of six aspiring winemakers from across Cape Town and Paarl to be chosen for the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme.The Cape Winemakers Guild is a collective of 41 of the best winemakers in the country, who decided in 2007 to launch the programme and recruit aspiring winemakers in hopes of training them to also become the best in the industry.“The protégés develop their skills while being exposed to different terroirs and styles of wine. This gives them invaluable experience and a firm foundation upon which to build their careers,” explains Magda Vorster, Protégé Programme facilitator.Topkin completed his Bachelor of Science: Agriculture degree in Viticulture and Oenology last year at Stellenbosch University and describes the course as “the science of wine”. Soon after graduating he applied for the protégé programme and was ecstatic when he was chosen – because wine has long been of particular interest to him.His love for wine was sparked early by both his mother and his grandfather who introduced him to the world of great wines. He worked for a few years in restaurants, but he knew that making wine was where his true interest was and so it came to fruition that he was chosen for the programme.His main aim for the course is to become a great red winemaker, which he is sure is possible based on the exceptional talent he will be working with.“The founder of Beyerskloof, Beyer Truter, is my mentor currently and I feel very privileged that he’s taken me under his wing. He’s a legend, and the pioneer of Pinotage,” says Topkin, who would also like to focus on making red wine and sparkling wine, Méthode Cap Classique.Looking ahead, he says he’d like to keep working in the Stellenbosch region. “Stellenbosch makes the best wines in the world,” he says confidently.The wines that he enjoys to drink are similar to the ones he hopes to make: reds. “I like Pinotage, a Bordeaux blend, a good Cab – anything good and red,” he concludes.The six protégés will spend their time in the programme at wine properties such as Mullineux Family Wines, Hartenberg, De Grendel, DeMorgenzon, Cederberg, Beyerskloof, Neil Ellis and Stellenzicht. The programme is funded by the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust.V For more information, visit www.capewinemakersguild.com.