During the early nineties, female cellar assistants were rarely found in the cellars, but today it is common practice to appoint female cellar assistants. Jennifer Fredericks, better known as Jenny, was one of the first female cellar assistants to be appointed in the wine industry. In 1994 she was appointed at a cellar in Paarl and has been working in cellars ever since, gaining valuable experience. She is currently senior cellar assistant at La Motte, having accepted a position at the cellar in 2013.
Initially it was difficult, because the general belief at the time was that only men could work in cellars and females were often not accepted by their male colleagues. According to Jenny it required a lot of perseverance, as her male colleagues at the time believed females should not work in a cellar. Ultimately it was worth it all, because from her first day in the cellar she wanted to know learn and know more about the product she was working with. She enjoys all aspects of her work as she finds the winemaking processes fascinating. During harvest adrenaline flows and she feels energetic, especially when the grapes are delivered to be processed and she must stay focussed.
Jenny has successfully completed several training programmes, including the Wine Training SA SKOP courses, including an evaluation course in the assessment of white, red, and fortified wines. Edmund Terblanche of La Motte and winemakers of cellars where she previously was employed motivated her, but also encouraged her to broaden her knowledge and her confidence increased. According to Jenny all cellars differ, and that one can fool oneself by believing one knows everything, but that she gained a lot of knowledge at all the cellars where she was previously involved.
Jenny is best known for her perseverance, which she describes as stubbornness. She approaches challenges she encounters from a faith point of view and passionately believes that everyone should be treated with respect. She has firm boundaries but believes that one should be flexible and not underestimate oneself. She also believes that one should not lose hope if one experiences opposition or challenges, but one should rather focus, stay motivated and persevere.
Jenny is a regular participant in the Winetech study groups and the workshops for senior cellar assistants. According to Jenny the Winetech cellar assistants’ programmes enables her to broaden her knowledge about winemaking processes in general. She believes that cellar assistants should continue to develop their knowledge. Her dream is to join an overseas cellar during harvest and to gain even more experience. She concludes that she is a cellar assistant because she finds her work interesting as she never stops learning. Jenny Fredericks can be described as a female senior cellar assistant of La Motte, who is not only motivated and passionate about her work, but she performs all her tasks and duties in the cellar with perseverance and dedication.