#WomensMonth: Celebrating women in wine
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The South African beverage industry has seen an increase in female winemakers and brewmasters.
These women are not afraid of getting their hands dirty to produce some of the best wines, beers, Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) and non-alcoholic brands in the country.
Jéanri Nel - Master Brewer at Hoogeberg
Hailed as one of the top brewers in the country, Nel makes her craft beer at Hoogeberg Brewery at Signal Gun in Durbanville.
“I studied for a BSc in viticulture and oenology at the University of Stellenbosch. When I started looking at job opportunities after graduation, beer brewing suddenly caught my attention and I was instantly hooked.
“I became an assistant brewer at Hoogeberg breweries. I fell in love with everything that it offers.”
Nel said, with the help and support from friends and family, finding her feet in the world of beer brewing had been relatively easy.
“Being a male or female doesn’t automatically determine an industry for you; it adds to who you are and that is all you need.
“This is who I am and who I want to be. Who says women can’t make damn good craft beer?”
Nondumiso Pikashe, Sesfikile Wines
Former teacher Pikashe took a leap of faith when she left the profession to pursue her “entrepreneurial spirit”.
Born and raised in Cape Town, Pikashe said wine used to be foreign to her and thought of wine as despicable.
“My brother abused wine and became an alcoholic, which lead to my finding wine despicable.”
“I wanted to explore the disparity of what I knew about wine to what was projected by the media out there.
On women taking their place in the wine industry, Nondumiso said: “That is what the Sesfikile brand speaks to: we have arrived (ses’fikile) to collaborate with men in this dynamic industry.”
“I dream of a day when there will be a Namhla saying ‘I am a viticulturist from Gugulethu’, or a Desiree saying, ‘I am an oenologist from Hanover Park’.”
Winemaker Carla Pauw from Saltare Carla
After she completed her degree in town and regional planning, Pauw worked part-time in the tasting room winery.
It was there that she realised her perfect job lay in winemaking.
Since 2010 Pauw has devoted all her time to developing the Saltare MCC and wine brands.
“Winemaking is very intuitive and sensory and women can bring something uniquely feminine to the process,” she said.
On women getting recognition in the industry, Pauw said: “Recognition as a good winemaker might take a bit longer to achieve but when it comes the differences decrease.”
Shareen Parker and Silvana Dantu, Zari Sparkling Grape
Business partners Shareen Parker and Silvana Dantu are causing a stir in the non-alcoholic industry with their sparkling grape brand, Zari.
“We are proud to be two women who are disrupting the market with our non-alcoholic brand of sparkling grape,” said Dantu.
The pair developed the brand after noticing an increase in Middle Eastern and Muslim visitors to the country.
“There is a movement towards alcohol-free... and people want an alternative to alcohol, but want it to be elegant,” said Dantu.
“It’s also important to tell the story of the grape. Jan van Riebeeck didn’t just arrive here and plant grapes.
“There is a story behind it and we want to tell that story in a way that highlights everybody’s role in the industry.”