Every year, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture offers previously disadvantaged individuals from the wine industry an exciting opportunity to gain experience in Burgundy, France, through its Burgundy Exchange Programme.
This year, 80 people entered for the programme, with just six selected through the rigorous application process.
Roelien Harolds, an employee of Waterkloof for the past seven years, was among the six individuals chosen.
Roelien began her career at Waterkloof as a vineyard worker.
Her passion, determination and work ethic were recognised and today she is cellar and lab assistant, working closely with cellar master, Nadia Barnard, and the Waterkloof winemaking team.
But, her determination doesn’t stop there – Roelien dreams of making her own wine one day.
She departed for Burgundy on Thursday August 30. For the first four weeks, as part of this exchange experience, she was immersed in the practices of viticulture and oenology, wine processing techniques and wine chemistry at Domaine De Croix, working with winemaker, David Croix.
For the last week she received lectures from Centre de Formation Professionnelle et de Promotion Agricole in Beaune involving French agriculture, wine appellations, barrel production and machine operations, and she returned to South Africa on Monday October 8.
When she returned, she said her favourite wine she enjoyed during her visit was the Domaine De Croix Corton Les Gréves Grand Cru 2016 and her favourite food was hearty cassoulet and home-made pork terrine. She even managed to watch a local football match between Dijon FCO and SM Caen.