Cape Winemakers Guild Protégés put their first wines in barrel

Harnessing their diverse personalities and unique interests, three Cape Winemakers Guild Protégés are putting heart and soul into crafting their very first wines – now safely in barrel after the 2017 harvest.

From left to right Maryna Huysamen, Sydney Mello, André Kotze (Managing Director of Cape Cooperage Group), Banele Vakele

The Protégés who have been given the opportunity to bring their creativity to life by making their own wines are Banele Vakele of Khayelitsha, Sydney Mello of Mahwelereng in Limpopo and Maryna Huysamen of Vredendal. Crafting their own wines is an essential part of the second year of the Guild’s Protégé Programme and has been made possible by the continued sponsorship of French oak barrels by the Cape Cooperage Group for the past 7 years.

Over and above the generous barrel donation, the Paarl based Cape Cooperage Group assists the Protégés by guiding them through their choice of barrel and helping them achieve the particular style of wine they aspire to make. Other annual sponsors supporting the initiative are Consol Glass and Amorim Cork who donate the bottles and the corks for the protégé wines.

“It’s an honour to support the industry in this way. We have the opportunity to partner alongside each new class of Protégés, who are actively learning, cultivating their vision, and expressing their passion for winemaking, whilst showcasing the unique terroir of South Africa,” says André Kotze, Managing Director of Cape Cooperage Group.

Besides producing their own wines, the Protégés learn how to prepare budgets, production plans and marketing proposals. This gives them valuable experience and insight into the entire winemaking process, from the creative aspects to the business end of the industry.

With the guidance of Boela Gerber at Groot Constantia, Banele Vakele is making a Shiraz based blend. For him, crafting a fine red blend is a combination of skill and art – something he intends mastering early in his winemaking career. Banele received a scholarship to attend the Cape Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology (CAMST) in Constantia. It was on the school ground overlooking the vineyards that Banele decided to pursue a career in the wine industry.

“My mentor plays a huge role in every decision I make regarding my wine, since he understands the soil and climate of the region so well. Whenever I want to experiment with something new, I seek his advice, and he has given me the freedom to express my creative side,” Banele explains.

Sydney Mello is trying his hand at a Blanc de Blancs and chose Johan Malan at Simonsig as his mentor this year, to learn all there is to know from the pioneers of Méthode Cap Classique. While growing up in Mahwelereng, Sydney’s curiosity about the intricacies of winemaking motivated him to make the journey to the Cape Winelands.  

“I find the whole process of making a bottle fermented sparkling wine (Cap Classique) very intriguing. I am fortunate that my mentor encourages a spirit of experimentation and doesn’t shy away from coming up with interesting suggestions that can further help make my wine something special,” says Sydney, who dreams of having his own label someday.

Maryna Huysamen, who is based at De Grendel under the fatherly eye of Charles Hopkins, has chosen to make a Sémillon for its rich citrus characteristics and great ageing potential for a white wine.

“The opportunity to create my own wine is exhilarating, especially alongside a great winemaker like Charles Hopkins. I am very excited to see this wine evolve and become what I intended it to be,” says Maryna, who always knew she wanted to work with nature. When she decided to become a winemaker, she was not completely sure of her choice, but after working in the cellar as part of her training, she knew that she was on the right career path.

Special presentation packs of these three Protégé wines will be auctioned in 2018 at Gala Dinners in Johannesburg and Cape Town and at the Silent Auction that takes place during 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.

“At Nedbank, applying our financial expertise to do good takes on many different shapes and forms,” explains Becky Penumlungu, Sponsorship Manager of Lifestyle Properties at Nedbank. “And as such, our partnership with the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme is testament to our commitment to identifying opportunities and supporting our country’s future industry leaders.”

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.

For more information on the Guild, contact Tel: 021 852 0408 or send an email to Students interested in applying for the Protégé Programme can visit the Guild’s website at

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