A donation of R100 000 by the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust has helped to bring an educational tour to Portugal and France later this year within the reach of final year Cellar Technology students at Elsenburg Agricultural College.
One the students who will be jetting off to France and Portugal in November to experience first hand what goes on in the cellar and the vineyards, is Eloise Kotze from Brackenfell.
The 22-year-old is a lover of the traditional Old World-styled wines of Europe as compared to New World more upfront wines, and is studying oenology at the agricultural college in Stellenbosch.
Eloise says her interest in wine was sparked when, years ago at primary school, she was taken on a tour of the JC Le Roux cellar in the Devon Valley, Stellenbosch. The cellar is renowned for its cap classique wines.
“I went through a few phases in my development and fortunately my parents, who supported my interest, paid for me to attend the Cape Wine Academy’s Preliminary and Certificate wine courses.”
With the two courses under her belt, giving her the foundation on which to build her wine career further, her last two years at Elsenberg have continued to confirm her passion for wine making.
She has worked with award-winning winemaker Ronel Wiid at Hazendal and has also been fortunate enough to work in the tasting room at Hartenberg, where legendary winemaker Carl Schultz crafts his much-lauded Shiraz and Riesling wines.
Part of the avid student’s studies involve crafting her own wine, prior to graduating, and as part of a team she has been responsible for making viognier and also a cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.
Needless to say, she is excited about her upcoming trip, which is being led by Elsenburg lecturer and winemaker Lorraine Geldenhuys and assistant winemaker Simon Monyamane.
The tour will give Eloise and her fellow students the opportunity to observe the diversity of winemaking and includes a visit to the cork forests of Portugal, experiencing the distillation of brandy in Cognac, visiting the first growths of Bordeaux, walking the Hill of Hermitage and drinking Pinot Noir from its birthplace in Burgundy.
“We’ll also be shown how the north and south Rhone styles in France vary; and be shown how important wine is as part of the culture in Europe,” says Eloise.
Eloise says she is also really thrilled to be going on the trip as she has not travelled much and has never been on an aeroplane.
“I was born in Knysna, and we moved to Cape Town and the furthest I have travelled to is Upington.”
She says she’s sure the trip will be a “life-changing experience” giving traction to her long-term vision of becoming a fully-fledged winemaker herself one day.
“I would like to spend most of my time in the cellar although viticulture – what goes on in the vineyards – and viniculture go hand in hand.
“And while I love the Stellenbosch area as far as wines are concerned, I’d love to get the opportunity to do harvests in other areas,” she says.
Chairman of the Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust Louis Strydom said: “The guild supports the education of young winemakers. This trip will give students the important exposure to international wines which is essential to their development, giving them a step up into the great world of wine.”
Over and above the initial donation of R100 000 to help fund the tour, members of the Cape Winemakers Guild will donate rare wines to be auctioned in Stellenbosch on Tuesday June 21 to help the students raise the R500 000 needed for their tour.
Founded in 1999, with the main objective of supporting social development by furthering education in the winelands, the guild’s development trust helps aspiring winemakers and viticulturists through its various support programmes.