The majestic Slanghoek and Badsberg Mountains embrace the Slanghoek Valley and demarcate its boundaries, having a tremendous impression on first-time visitors. The valley has a rich past and a history which can be linked to the historic Opstal Estate.
In 1847, the farm De Opstal bij de Fonteine was granted to Jan Coenraad Rossouw, and the name indicates that the farmhouse (opstal) might have been the first homestead in the valley at the time. After seven generations, Opstal is still owned by the descendants of Jan Coenraad Rossouw and the current owners, the Louw family, have become famous for their hospitality and Opstal’s quality wines. The family history is commemorated with the Carl Everson Chenin Blanc, which is made from hand-picked grapes from an old vineyard planted in 1982. This wine is named after Attie and Zak Louw’s great-grandfather, who started farming on Opstal in 1950 and was a pioneer in the Slanghoek Valley and wine industry at the time.
Opstal permanently employs 70 people, of whom six individuals are permanently in the cellar. According to Attie, Opstal uses all available opportunities to increase employees’ skills so that each one can reach his or her full potential. He is convinced that the more informed an individual is, the greater the productivity and the effectiveness with which tasks are completed. However, employees must know exactly what the assignment entails and why it should be executed.
Opstal believes that there is a responsibility on management to expose employees to as much information as possible and to continuously develop their knowledge. According to Attie participation in the Cellar Assistants’ Programme makes a huge difference in the development of cellar assistants’ knowledge and there is an improved insight into the tasks performed in the cellar. Opstal employees are encouraged to make use of available opportunities, but also to take responsibility for their development. Individuals should make informed choices and know why they are doing it. Attie confirms that he is a big proponent of internships so that individual skills can be developed through exposure to new environments, but unfortunately, this is not always practically feasible, because available time remains a challenge.
In 2022, the Cellar Assistants’ Programme replaced the well-known Winetech study groups, with an information day with a practical approach to the programme content discussing relevant topics relating to the cellar environment and winemaking procedures. Attie immediately noticed the difference in his team after they attended the information day and that they were exceptionally motivated afterwards. He confirms that the Cellar Assistants’ Programme addresses important aspects that result in real change in cellar assistants’ skills and general knowledge.
Opstal management has strong mentoring relationships with employees in the cellar and the vineyard. Guidance is continuously provided so that individuals can develop personally, as well as professionally.
Opstal believes that future leaders should take responsibility for their decisions and actions in the workplace. They should be receptive to shifts in emphasis; the way they approach matters and challenge the way they think. They must therefore be receptive to innovative ideas, but also be able to receive criticism from management, including colleagues. Management believes that integrity continues to be an essential quality and that the actions of the individual in the workplace and his personal life, are determinant factors of his or her future as a leader.
Opstal is steadfastly committed to investing in its employees’ development on a personal, as well as professional level, so that everyone can reach their full potential and make a positive contribution to the Slanghoek Valley community.