Riaan Fielies from Windfall wine farm outside Robertson is South Africa’s top cellar worker.
He was announced as the winner of the South African Cellar Worker Programme at an information day for cellar workers on 30 October 2015. The day was sponsored by Nedbank Business Banking and formed part of the Agri Cape Week agricultural expo in Worcester.
“I am very excited and proud to be named the winner, especially as this is the first wine course I have completed,” says Fielies, who has worked at Windfall for the last eight years. He received a cash prize of R10 000 and the Nedbank Floating Trophy.
The two runners-up are Heinrich Le Fleur from DGB in Wellington and Gert Booysen from Neethlingshof in Stellenbosch. They both received a cash prize of R5 000.
This year a record amount of 300 Afrikaans and Xhosa speaking cellar workers from across the Western Cape attended the South African Cellar Worker Programme’s series of study groups from April to September, which is funded by the wine industry organisations VinPro and Winetech.
“The aim of the programme is to empower cellar workers, celebrate excellence and to foster a spirit of mentorship in the South African wine industry. We are grateful to every cellar that entered their staff for the study groups,” says Santi Basson, project coordinator.
This year’s study groups focussed on wines from South Africa and the Americas, as well as the production of sparkling wine and brandy, and legal wine preparation methods and processes. The practical tastings involved distinguishing between individual flavour components and faulty wines.
According to Christo Conradie, manager of VinPro’s Wine Cellars division, the Cellar Worker Programme is practical and it makes a tangible difference in the wine industry. “By joining hands and collaborating with stakeholders like Nedbank and Winetech, the wine industry’s training dream is being realised. VinPro is proud to be associated with this initiative,” says Conradie.
“The wine industry is an important contributor to the Western Cape economy, and its cellar workers are an integral part of this. Therefore it is strategically important for Nedbank to sponsor the Cellar Worker Information Day, during which recognition is given to this exceptional group of people,” says Helmien Havenga, Nedbank Business Banking’s area manager in the Breede River Overberg Area.
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