Fairview Estate, well-known estate in Suider Paarl, follows a holistic approach to ensure employees’ well-being, with a focus on the advancement of good, sustainable practices. Successful transfer of information about health, nutrition, exercise, and financial literacy is considered important, with a registered social worker and a qualified nurse available to provide support.
Front: Christopher Zaleni, Annette van Zyl and Chenick Lem. Back: Hendry Hector, Regis Nouany, Veronica Jacobs, Klaas Daniels, Anthony de Jager and Nico Januarie.
Fairview’s cellar assistants are encouraged to attend training to develop and broaden their general knowledge about the product they work with. Transfer of knowledge also forms an important part of Fairview’s quality control procedures. For example, Annette van Zyl, winemaker of Fairview, presents an annual wine tasting to broaden the cellar team’s knowledge and to expose them to wines from different regions, including different wine styles.
Accredited mentorship programmes were previously implemented on the estate, but it was found that informal mentoring relationships are more successful. An open-door policy ensures that positive relationships are established in the cellar and that opportunities are created for the individual who would like to learn more. Therefore, individual progress is possible. During regular group discussions possible opportunities are identified, which results in the entire cellar team begin part of an informal mentoring approach. Some of Fairview’s cellar assistants have been employed in the cellar for more than twenty years. The team is encouraged to consult with these senior team members, as they have extensive knowledge and experience, particularly in terms of planning.
According to Annette many cellar assistants have a fear of Mathematics, which may be attributed to the basic educational building blocks not captured successfully at an early stage. Literacy levels, regardless of whether the individual has passed Matric, is an increasingly serious problem for the wine industry.
Cellar assistants are generally not motivated to attend training programmes. This may be due to a fear of failure or disappointment and perhaps a fear of the contents of the subject, which can be traced back to their school education. Therefore, continuous motivation is an important element in mentorship relations, to encourage cellar assistants to challenge themselves, and to broaden their knowledge. The motivation of cellar assistants supports the learning process, because without motivation the transfer of knowledge will be challenging in most cases. Good mentoring begins with the inspiration of the individual, but to successfully motivate an individual there must be an element of passion present in the communication and activities which takes place in the cellar. Successful mentors develop and demonstrate skills which can be imitated, such as the ability to listen and to ask the right questions.
According to Annette, Fairview participates in the Winetech study groups because it provides an excellent platform for the broadening of cellar assistants’ knowledge and the development of their wine tasting techniques. The study groups also create an environment where cellar assistants can meet fellow cellar assistants and share their knowledge. Cellar assistants are encouraged to take an interest in their work and with the attendance of the Winetech study groups individual confidence is consequently improved.
The development of cellar assistants’ knowledge is a long-term process, as the individual should understand the winemaking process and the purpose of certain activities, which in turn will influence the quality of work delivered. It is important to maintain the interest of cellar assistants and to develop their individual skills. Annette is convinced that the development of knowledge is an investment not only for cellar assistants, but also for the cellar, as a general comprehension and the understanding of winemaking procedures makes a winemaker’s task just so much easier.