Burgundy and Beyond: Roelien Harolds goes from vineyard-worker to cellar & lab assistant

by | Oct 18, 2018 | Blog, Lifestyle, News

Roelien Harolds in Burgundy, France as part of the 2018 Thuthukyle Skweyiya Burgundy Wine Exchange Programme.

Roelien Harolds has gone above and beyond all expectations in her career as a cellar and lab assistant at Waterkloof Winery. Her ambition and determination have been the driving factors that have transformed her life in the wine industry, and her story truly is an inspirational one.

Roelien first became acquainted with the wine industry 7 years ago as a Vineyard Worker at Waterkloof Winery. Over her years in the vineyard, she developed a true passion for the art of winemaking, and she decided that she wanted to become more involved in the winemaking process. She began to show promise in her abilities as she worked up the ranks at Waterkloof.

Roelien’s ambition then drove her to enter herself in The 2018 Thuthukyle Skweyiya Burgundy Wine Exchange Programme as one of eighty candidates. Much to her excitement she was then chosen as one of the lucky six involved in this incredible opportunity.

The Thuthukyle Skweyiya Burgundy Wine Exchange Programme was established in 2001 by South Africa’s then ambassador to France and Unesco Thutukile Skweyiya, and was an agreement between the premier of the Western Cape and the president of the regional council of Burgundy. This Programme aims to uplift South African’s from previously disadvantaged backgrounds who are passionate about the vineyard and the art of winemaking. This made Roelien the ideal candidate for the Programme.

Roelien was in France for just over a month, during which time she was engrossed in her studies of viticulture, oenology, wine processing techniques and wine chemistry at Domaine De Croix. This was a very practical, hands-on experience as she worked with winemaker David Croix. Durring her final week on the Programme, Roelien then attended classes involving French agriculture, wine appellations, barrel production and machine operations  at the Centre de Formation Professionnelle et de Promotion Agricole (CFPPA) in Beaune, Burgundy.

Possibly one of the most memorable and unique aspects of this Programme is the enrolees experiences living with French host families and becoming completely immersed in the foreign culture of this region. This culture maintains a great respect for food and wine, and this is thus a high priority in their lives and reflects in their lifestyles.

The Thuthukyle Skweyiya Burgundy Wine Exchange Programme has done incredible things for the Western Cape’s wine industry and its development. This Programme has transformed the lives and created careers for over 250 South Africans who have acknowledged that it has touched the lives of everybody who has been involved with it.

This certainly rings true in the case of Roelien Harolds, who continues to make leaps and bounds in her career due to the knowledge that she has received. Roelien is currently Waterkloof’s cellar and lab assistant, working closely with cellar master Nadia Barnard and the winemaking team.

Roelien is somebody who has made something of herself from nothing but hard work and a passion for the culture of winemaking. She is somebody who has set an example for each and every one of us in the wine industry, and proved once again that self-belief and hard work will always earn you success.

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