Winemakers Guild protégés bring creativity to life

Cape Cooperage Group managing director, André Kotze with second year Winemakers Guild protégés Gynore Fredericks, Elouise Kotze and Morgan Steyn. The Cape Cooperage Group sponsored French oak barrels for these protégés to make their own wine for the first time.

The second year Cape Winemakers Guild protégés made their first wines during the 2018 harvest.

The protégés, who have been given the chance to express their creativity by making their own wines, are Morgan Steyn of Riversdale, Gynore Fredericks of Malmesbury and Elouise Kotze of Brackenfell. This is an essential part of the second year of the Cape Winemakers Guild protégé programme and has been made possible by the continued sponsorship of French oak barrels by the Paarl-based Cape Cooperage Group for the past eight years.

The Cape Cooperage Group assists the protégés by guiding them through their choice of barrel and helping them achieve the particular style of wine they envision. Other annual sponsors supporting the initiative are Consol Glass and Amorim Cork who donate the bottles and the corks for the protégé wines.

“These protégés are the future ambassadors of our wine industry. To experience their willingness to learn from our expertise in making the right choices of French oak barrels for their wines, makes us proud to be a sponsor,” says André Kotze, managing director of Cape Cooperage Group.

The protégés also learn how to prepare budgets, production plans and marketing proposals. This gives them experience and insight into the entire winemaking journey, from the vineyard to the end product in the bottle.

With the guidance of Morné Vrey at Delaire Graff, Morgan Steyn is making a sauvignon blanc and semillon blend. He wants his wine to show others the beauty of a Bordeaux-style white blend. Morgan became interested in wine when his teacher spoke about the industry in his agriculture class.

“I want to be a winemaker that leads by example and brings change to the industry. I want to follow in the footsteps of my mentors, because I can see their love for wine,” says Morgan.

Gynore Fredericks, with the guidance and knowledge of Charles Hopkins at De Grendel, is trying her hand at pinot noir. The mystery of how to create a glass of top quality wine from grapes, is what motivated her to study winemaking.

“I chose pinot noir as I have never worked with this cultivar before and it is a variety with so much potential. It has an elegance and softness to it that I believe is inherent in every woman,” says Gynore.

Elouise Kotze, based at Saronsberg under the watchful eye of Dewaldt Heyns, has chosen to make viognier after falling in love with the Rhône cultivars while spending a harvest in France.

“My wine is fermented in a water treated barrel with a lower toasting to preserve the floral and fruit aromas that viognier is known for. My mentor has taught me valuable techniques on treating this cultivar reductively while still highlighting the freshness of the wine and incorporating the Rhône-style into a South African viognier,” says Elouise, who decided to become a winemaker at the age of 16 after reading an article about women in the industry.

Presentation packs of their wines will be auctioned in 2019 at gala dinners in Johannesburg and Cape Town and at the silent auction 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 and viticulturists.

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 protégé programme plays an active role in the long term health and sustainability of the industry.