Robertson was established during the 19th century, with the first plots allocated and laid out on the farm Over Roodezandt. Today, the name of the farm is reflected in Roodezandt Winery, which is prominently situated in Voortrekker Street.
Back: Deon Tiemie, Jean du Plessis, Zwelakhe Mbutyu and Jaco Lategan. 4th row: John Mehlo, Anesto Claassen, Phumzile Mbutyu, Lingekile Dyasi, Billy Bosch, Angelo Keyster and Johannes Rooi. 3rd row: Abe Rossouw, Christie Steytler, Joanna Eyssen and Joseph Seboka. 2nd row: Tiaan Blom, Cyril Stahl, Patrick Rasmeni, Deodat Hugo, Gerrie Grootboom, Clement Demas, Leon Isaacs and Desmond Diedericks. Front: Wandile Sitshaluza, Joseph Stuurman, Plaatjie Geduld, Piet Samuels, Jonathan Kamfer and Danvin Africa. Absent: Dyron Pieterse, Lionel Davids, Andries Wentzel, Spambo Makhosomzi and John Stahl.
Roodezandt Winery is a regular participant in the Winetech study groups and workshops for senior cellar assistants. Management consults with cellar assistants to establish interest in training and the transfer of knowledge. Therefore, participation in training programmes is voluntary and not enforced.
According to Christie Steytler, production manager and cellar master of Roodezandt Winery, most of the cellar assistants initially joined the cellar as temporary workers but were eventually appointed permanently. Christie believes that the content of training progammes and the transfer of knowledge should be relevant to the cellar assistants’ daily duties. It is important that the content is interesting and that the interest of the cellar team is retained. The role of the winemaker is equally important in the development of cellar assistants’ knowledge, but there must be an awareness of the topics which cellar assistants will find interesting. Younger cellar assistants are hesitant to commit to further training and usually display a lack of interest. It is therefore important to motivate them, stimulate their interest and develop their knowledge about the product which they work with.
Gerrie Grootboom, winemaker assistant, plays an important role to support junior cellar assistants with tasks, for example doing calculations correctly. The support for junior cellar assistants assists them to develop confidence in their own abilities. Gerrie therefore plays an important role in motivating and mentoring cellar assistants on ground level.
Christie believes in a holistic approach to ensure the general wellbeing of the cellar team. Although there are many cellar assistants who do not have the need or wish for further training, there are many who are enthusiastic about the product they are working with. He also believes that cellar assistants should “move through the ranks” and that individual development should be achieved gradually to establish leadership potential. Christie is convinced that while cellar assistants’ interest should be stimulated continuously, their knowledge should be broadened and captured. Winemakers should also form a bond with their cellar team, as guidance regarding challenges within the workplace and occasionally on a personal level, is often required.
In 2018 Roodezandt Winery established a committee in collaboration with the cellar assistants, to give them the opportunity to take greater responsibility in managing human relations within the workplace. Christie mentioned that one of the goals of the committee was to establish a forum, so that the cellar team could discuss matters informally within a safe environment. The committee focuses on addressing internal issues and to solve the challenges identified. The committee has a responsibility to discuss sensitive issues with management. However, the rules and regulations of the cellar are still applicable, but this approach has great value to successfully address thorny issues through discussions.
Regular communication with the committee, as well as the cellar assistants, is considered an investment, as it establishes an involvement and interest in Roodezandt Winery employees. At the same time an atmosphere of trust is developed, and healthy relationships are established and maintained.