The Cape Winemakers Guild (CWG) will be kicking off 2024 with a host of fresh faces, as it welcomes a new committee, two new members and four new protégés.
Emul Ross from Hamilton Russell Vineyards and John Seccombe from Thorne and Daughters are entering the Guild as members. Cape Winemakers Guild membership is by invitation only. Bringing together the most inspiring, talented and acclaimed winemakers from appellations across the length and breadth of the Cape winelands, the Guild aims to nurture excellence in the art and science of winemaking. The addition of Ross and Seccombe brings the current membership total to 41.
Sizeka Mphuphu, Lulo Bulo, Pelokazi Nomfembe and Nompumelelo Mosaka will be joining the Protégé Programme. The Protégé Programme is the Cape Winemakers Guild’s contribution to the transformation of South Africa’s wine industry and serves as an opportunity for members to transfer knowledge and skills to the next generation of dynamic young winemakers. Since its inception in 2006, the Protégé Programme has established itself as the most successful skills development programme in the South African wine industry. So far, 36 protégés have completed the three-year internship, nine are currently participating in this ongoing programme, and 18 now either hold leading winemaking roles or have their own winemaking projects.
Mphuphu, Bulo, Nomfembe and Mosaka will be joining their ranks in 2024, each spending three years under the tutelage of different Guild members.
Emul Ross’s interest in winemaking started at a young age, sparked by the diversity of wines enjoyed by the grownups around the dinner table. After studying BSc Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University, he worked with Erika Obermeyer at Graham Beck and Gottfried Mocke at Chamonix and credits them with fuelling his passion for wine. Both Obermeyer and Mocke are also members of the Cape Winemakers Guild.
Since taking on the role as winemaker at the legendary Hemel-en-Aarde Valley estate, Hamilton Russell Vineyards in 2014, Ross has been raking in awards and accolades, making him one of South Africa’s young winemakers to watch.
“It’s a real honour to have been nominated by my peers and mentors to join the CWG. I hope to continue making a positive contribution to the wine industry with renewed vigour and I greatly look forward to the ongoing learning opportunities that the CWG offers,” says Ross.
Along with his wife, Tasha, John Seccombe spent several years making wine around the world before returning to the Western Cape in 2009 and establishing Thorne and Daughters Wines in 2012. Seccombe’s approach to winemaking is simple, honest and gentle, seeking to produce vintages that taste of the sunshine, air and soil of the Cape.
Drawing on the rich history of viticulture in South Africa, Seccombe specialises in putting together old vineyard parcels with new grape varieties, making wines with old school simplicity and a modern ‘edge’.
“I am delighted to have been accepted as a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild. I am extremely grateful to the members who supported my membership, and look forward to being a part of the far-reaching work that the Guild does for the South African wine industry.” says Seccombe.
Selected from dozens of recent graduates who applied for the Protégé Programme, Mphuphu, Bulo, Nomfembe and Mosaka are excited to start their winemaking journey under the mentorship of Cape Winemakers Guild Members.
These vibrant young women boast a diverse range of interests, from content creation and digital branding to sports and travelling, but share a singular passion for viticulture and oenology.
Bulo says that she looks forward to honing her winemaking skills and networking with other protégés and their mentors. She says: “I really get excited and enthusiastic about wine events, and engaging with like-minded individuals. This would help me build my networks and learn more about the consumer and market pull.”
“In my ideal role, I would constantly be pushing the boundaries of creativity, exploring new methods to enhance the complexity and richness of the wines,” says Mosaka, adding that she also aims to dedicate herself to sustainability and inclusivity.
Mphuphu describes becoming a protégé as a life-changing moment for her family. “My goal is to gain as much exposure and experience as I can,” she says. “I’m open to stepping outside of my comfort zone.”
For Nomfembe, participating in the Protégé Programme represents an opportunity to shatter stereotypes and improve her professional skills. “In 10 years’ time, I hope to have my own brand to promote in South Africa and abroad.”
Samantha O’Keefe will be taking over the reins as Cape Winemakers Guild’s Chair from Gordon Newton Johnson, while JD Pretorius steps into the role of Vice Chair. They are joined by Warren Ellis as Cellarmaster, David Sadie as Treasurer and Carl Schultz who is responsible for CWG Strategies and Procedures.