WSET success for Pinotage Youth Development Academy students

by | Nov 10, 2020 | News

The International Wine Education Centre (IWEC) has announce yet another set of remarkable results for this year’s intake of students at the Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA).

Of the 50 students who wrote the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 qualification, almost 75% have passed, opening a world of opportunity for these motivated young people.

The course was sponsored by the WSET themselves as well as the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and was facilitated by four of the IWEC’s top lecturers over a four-week period.

Merits and distinctions
Not only have 34 students gained a passing grade, but seven of them achieved a merit (70% or more) and three students have excelled themselves, gaining top marks and a distinction grade (85% or higher). Top student, Siyonela Mntonga, who scored an incredible 94% in the exam, says that her favourite part of the course was learning about the various international wine regions. Her ambition is to be a winemaker and she hopes to eventually travel to Europe to ply her trade before returning to work here in South Africa.

Mvuyisi Mabesi, who achieved 90%, would also like to make wine. “For me, the most interesting part of the course was the influence of terroir. It’s incredible how two wines who share the same grape variety can look, smell and taste different from each other because of the area in which their grapes are planted” he says. Ntomboxolo Jejane’s ambitions lie in the world of sommeliers and she wants to use her distinction grade of 86% to open doors and allow her to continue with her studies, all the way to the very top of the profession.

Cathy Marston, owner of the IWEC which facilitated the course, says “I am incredibly proud of the students, this year in particular. The Covid-19 lockdown has been a very difficult time for them and it is testament to these young peoples’ strength of character and determination to succeed that they have managed to come out of this year on such a high. None of this could be possible without the amazing support from our sponsors – the IWC and the WSET. The IWC has supported a number of students in recent years but this is the first time that we have been able to offer the course to the entire intake and that is due to the generosity of the WSET who sponsored books and exams.”

Nikki Munro, executive director of the PYDA says “We are extremely impressed with the students’ achievements given the craziness of 2020. They have worked very hard as this qualification is an important one to them and one they have seen make the difference for other graduates. They have access to this opportunity only because of IWC and WSET funding and support. We are truly appreciative of the partnership and the value it adds to students individually, professional skills in the sector and ultimately our amazing country.”

What next?
The PYDA students are currently on the last part of their course with internships in various positions around the Western Cape. After they complete this and graduate in early December, these motivated and enthusiastic young people will be looking for permanent positions as they start to make their way up the career ladder. Any employers looking to recruit in a variety of positions are urged to contact Rita Rank at the PYDA who can assist in recommending suitably-qualified staff. Contact her at


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