Cultivating the next generation of passionate winemakers


Four passionate young viticulture and oenology graduates will be taking up an internship with some of South Africa’s top winemakers, under the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme.

The three new oenology protégés will spend the next three years under the mentorship of members of the Guild and a viticulture protégé will be mentored through a two-and-a-half-year internship whilst participating in the programme.

Ongoing learning among members

The Cape Winemakers Guild consists of 43 of South Africa’s leading winemakers. The Guild provides the opportunity for ongoing learning among members, as well as facilitating meaningful transformation within the South African wine industry through education.

Launched in 2007, the Protégé Programme has enrolled 34 protégés, 24 of whom are now working in the South African wine industry.

The following students have been accepted into the 2020 Protégé Programme:

•    Anique Ceronio from Kuilsrivier will be mentored by Abrie Beeslaar at Kanonkop.

•    Kyle Davids from Pniel will mentored by Warren Ellis at Neil Ellis Wines.

•    Gina Viola from Brackenfell will be mentored by Frans Smit at Spier.

•    Thabile Cele from Winklespruit will be mentored by Frans Smit at Spier.

Magda Vorster, protégé programme facilitator, says: “Choosing the right protégé for the programme is about more than just skills and academic results; we search for candidates that display leadership and interpersonal skills, a willingness to learn, the desire to become the best they can be and, above all, a deep passion for the winemaking process.”

The programme, funded by the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust, aims to cultivate the next generation of award-winning winemakers, as well as empower students while promoting transformation within the industry.

Mentorship built on science

Each protégé is mentored by a different member of the Guild for a period of one year, allowing them to learn the science and art of wine making and gain first-hand experience of the inner workings of the cellar. This knowledge is put into practice when second year protégés produce their own wines and travel to France to further enhance their winemaking experience.

“The programme provides young winemakers like myself, the opportunity to be taken under the wing of industry leaders, allowing exposure to the industry and the chance to gain key skills,” Ceronio says.

Davids adds: “This will help expand my knowledge of all the different types of wine styles. I also get the opportunity to meet new people and have a mentor that will guide me through harvest,” he says.

The viticulture protégés are also mentored by members of the Guild and receive practical training in the intricacies of cultivation techniques to ensure outstanding grape quality for different wine types and styles. “The programme is a wonderful platform for aspiring viticulturists to gain knowledge, experience and skills from the biggest role-players in the industry,” Viola says.

Cele adds: “I feel blessed to be part of such amazing programme that helps graduates gain experience and training.” -Press release, Cape Winemakers Guild