Story of hope: a source of inspiration for Vondeling Wines

by | Dec 18, 2020 | News

Caption: Nathan with his proud parents, Rosie and Danny

‘Tis the season of giving. And although 2020’s been a tough one, our wine industry does not lack for inspiring, heartfelt stories. Julian Johnsen, managing director at Vondeling Wines, shared this incredible tale of selfless generosity, and how one random act of kindness can make a real, tangible difference in people’s lives.

“So, I wanted 2020 to end on a happy note and tell you a story that happened here at Vondeling. We first moved here in 2000, from Tulbagh, where we had been establishing a large vineyard. Five of our staff moved with us all those years ago and they are still working here today. Danny Moolman was my right hand man and foreman and him and his wife Rosie, along with their 6 year old son Delnade, made the move here with the rest of us.

They left behind their eldest son Nathan, who was about to start his two final years building up to Matric in Tulbagh. He didn’t want to change schools, so he moved in with his grandmother and remained. Later on, I asked Danny how Nathan was getting on and what he hoped to do after school.
“He hasn’t got much choice, Sir”, Danny replied. “His only two options are the army or the police”. This surprised me as I had really never given it much thought. 

“What is he interested in”, I asked. “He loves computers”, Danny replied ,”and would love to study something in that line, but we can’t afford it”. I mulled this over for a day or two and said to Danny that if Nathan did well in his final Matric exam, we would try and help.

Well, he did very well and he announced that if at all possible he would love to go and study computing at the Boland Technical College in Worcester. So his Father and I managed to put some funds together and off he went, telling him “we were making huge sacrifices and he better work hard!”

Just over a year later I went to the post office to retrieve our mail from our post box. Amongst the bills and boring looking letters, was a big, brown envelope with Nathan’s name on and Boland College stamped on the front. I couldn’t resist it….I gently peeled the envelope back, being careful not to rip it and extracted the contents for a cheeky look. This is what I found: 

I couldn’t believe it. But I was in a rush. I was late for a meeting with our very high powered local Land Surveyor in Paarl, David Hellig, and I shuffled into his office a few minutes late. “You won’t believe this, David”, I stammered and regaling Nathan’s story I thrust the certificate in front of him.

David looked quite interested and said, ”This is just the sort of young person I like to train up. He hasn’t worked for anyone else, so no bad habits. He can come and work here for a few weeks and see how it pans out”.

Two years later David phoned. “That boy Nathan has got talent! I want to send him to Cape Technikon to study Auto Cad Draughting, but you and his Father must help”. “Fine”, I said. So Nathan was put on the train in Paarl at lunchtime, having worked at David Hellig & Abrahamse in the morning and went to study in Cape Town in the afternoons and evenings. His Father had to go and fetch him with the farm bakkie every evening after a long days work on the farm. Nathan passed with flying colours again.

Nathan has worked there ever since (2004), is a top draughtsman, has bought his own beautiful house in Tulbagh, drives a new VW Golf and commands a solid salary. He has a beautiful partner and 7-year old son. His parents are very proud of him as we all are at Vondeling.

It’s a wonderful story and one I think the great Nelson Mandela believed could happen. If given the opportunity, young people, through hard work and determination, could help themselves. Well done, Nathan! And now for our wonderful Christmas special below. You can order this online to be delivered anywhere in South Africa to your holiday destination, so you have one less thing to pack for summer. 

Have a wonderful festive season and God bless.”

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