Nuy Winery in Worcester bids farewell to its chairman and vice-chairman who has retired after a collective 57 years of service. Read the Q&A with Charl Rabie and Pieta Conradie below:
Charl Rabie served as a director (1987 to 1991), vice-chairman (1991 to 1996) and chairman (1996 to 2020)
Q: How long have you been actively involved in the wine industry? I was born and bred on a wine farm. I started farming full-time in 1983 and I am still involved at our family farm, Sonja, in the Nuy Valley.
Q: What is your advice for the next generation of management at Nuy? It’s important for leaders to adapt to changing times and new challenges. It’s also essential to keep thinking of ways to innovate and add value through good partnerships.
Q: What role has technology played in make notable differences in the industry? Press machinery as well as the use of effective irrigation systems (drip irrigation) has has the biggest impact on our industry over the last couple of decades. In 1983, the average percentage of good wine was around 80%. Today, thanks to new technology, this figure has increased to about 100%.
Q: What is the golden rule for growing grapes as a basis for good wine? I believe that good wine is made in the vineyard. The process starts with the correct cultivars and rootstock on the right soil and location. Good viticultural practices coupled with the processing of grapes in a modern cellar and a good team is equally essential.
Q: If you could do one thing differently throughout your career, what would it be? I believe you need to be able to adapt. I made decisions according to the circumstances and the time. In retrospect, I would have made more of an effort in diversifying from the vineyard to other industries.
Q: What excites you about the future of the industry? There are many challenges in the wine industry. To remain positive is important. Fortunately, there is a growing demand for agricultural products locally and abroad.
Q: One golden rule for successful management? It’s important to have participatory management as well as communication between the board and management and its members is non-negotiable.
Q: How did you ensure that your team remained committed to the journey and what lessons have you learnt from them? Through communication and motivation, our aim is to constantly improve the living conditions of our team members. They taught me about perseverance, happiness and loyalty.
Q: Who/what has been your greatest motivation? My love for farming, my wife and children. My faith has also helped me to get through difficult times and to remain positive.
Q: Any techniques from the younger generation that impressed you? Computer technology at all levels and the ability to think wider and be part of global thinking patterns. Their energy and enthusiasm are the right medicine to maintain a health and vibrant industry.
Pieta Conradie served as a director (1996 to 2015) and vice-chairman (2015 to 2020)
Q: Advice to the next generation of management? The winery and its members should always remain the number one priority – it’s not a popularity contest and you should do your job to the best of your ability.
Q: What technology has made a notable difference in the industry? Mechanical harvesting and irrigation. There’s more room to experiment with cultivars. On a technological front there’s still more room for improvement on the farm and cellar.
Q: What is the golden rule for growing grapes as a basis for good wine? Water management and plant nutrition.
Q: Besides weather patterns, are there any other repetitive tendencies in the wine industry? Demand and supply.
Q: If you could do one thing differently throughout your career, what would it be? If I was in the financial position to do so, I would have adapted quicker to technology.
Q: What excites you about the future of the wine? The future of agriculture and the number of young farmers entering the industry.
Q: The golden rule for successful management of a co-operative wine cellar? Make decisions that are in the best interest for your cellar and members.
Q: How did you ensure that your team remained committed to the journey and what lessons have you learnt from them? Communication and self-respect.
Q: Who/what has been your greatest inspiration? In difficult times you find out who your true friends and leaders are.
Q: Are there any techniques from the younger generation that impressed you? More hands-on approach to rapid development and technology.
Nuy Wine Cellar is grateful to have had these two legends for so long. Their contribution to the cellar and industry is indescribable. The left a strong foundation for the future of Nuy Wine Cellar.