Women in Wine: Beyond the Barrel

The statistician

Yvette Van Der Merwe

Executive Manager Sawis, President of Commission III Law and Economy OIV

Words to live by: “Just do it!”

When not devoting herself to wine intelligence data and all that comes with it, the competent and dedicated Yvette Van Der Merwe says she made it a point a few years back to act as a tourist in the South African wine industry herself.  “I especially like the diversity that we have to offer, it’s difficult to single one out, but I always recommend estates, CreationSaronsberg and Steenberg.” 

What’s currently in your glass? 

There is Waterford Rosemary, Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc, Kleine Zalze Sauvignon or Chenin at any time in my house. I am not a wine connoisseur; I would like to be. I’m dreaming of the day when I get to see what the hype is about Chateau Petrus.

The tastemaker

Penelope Setti

Owner of wine bar, Penny Noire

Words to live by: “There is no time like now to drink great wine.”

When not running her progressive wine bar in Bree Street, Cape Town, Penny says she enjoys discovering the Klein Karoo Wine Route, a region full of characters and interesting wines.  

What’s currently in your glass?  There is always chenin in my glass, always. Can I choose one? It’s like choosing a favourite child. There is too much diversity in the category, but let’s say for everyday drinking it would have to be AA Badenhorst Secateurs. 

The mentor

Kachné Ross

Learning and Development Manager Winetech, SA Wine Industry Professional Body (SAWIPB) manager

Words to live by: “If you talk about it, it’s a dream. If you envision it, it’s possible; but if you schedule it, it’s real!”

Kachné says her passion is to study the behavioural and developmental potential of people. When not actively working to aid in development for the South African Wine Industry, you can find Kachné enjoying Spice Route, which is close to her home, or Tulbagh, “which is a new discovery, I would like to spend more time there. The Franschhoek Wine Valley always leaves you with appreciation and satisfaction – the wine tram is a winner and the fact that farms are all very close together, La Motte is a favourite.”  

What’s currently in your glass? We have all seen the mountain peaks packed with snow this past winter so I’m sipping on my all-time favourite Landskroon Port, 2019 Vintage. I enjoy Krone Borealis Cuvée Brut, Villiera Tradition Rosé Brut NV, Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc, also Durbanville Hills Honeysuckle Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine. I would still like to try all of the black-owned brands. There is a list.

The communicator

Maryna Calow

Communications Manager WOSA, International Wine Judge

Words to live by: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you – it’s   really easy to be kind and I can’t think of anything that the world needs more right now.”

Even though promoting, talking about and sipping South African wine is her day job, you will still find Maryna enjoying the fruits of the industry in her time off.  “I have always had a soft spot for Franschhoek. It encompasses everything you can wish for when visiting the Winelands: superb wine, excellent food, epic scenery and just a lovely European village feel. It’s also very romantic. The Durbanville Valley is right on my doorstep and we love our impromptu visits to local wineries, but for a weekend away, I find Robertson has so much to offer for families in summer, while Tulbagh is a winter wonderland that is full of surprises.”

What is currently in your glass?  I’m loving on the Snow Mountain Artisan Collection’s The Kalk Bay. It’s predominantly cabernet franc with a dash of merlot. Rich and juicy with subtle tannins that warm your cockles on a winter’s day.

The entrepeneur

Berene Sauls

Owner of Tesselaarsdal Wines, Mastercard® ‘Who is She?’ Women’s Day campaign ambassador

Words to live by: “Do not expect what you don’t inspect.”

When not developing Tesselaarsdal for future vineyards and tending to the current ones, solving multiple agricultural issues on a daily basis, making her increasingly acclaimed range of wines, Berene is a true Overberg local at heart. “My favourite wine experience is the Creation winter food pairing, such exciting flavour and texture combinations.” 

What is currently in your glass?  The Ashbourne Sandstone 2020 or the Storm Ridge Pinot Noir 2019.

The leader

Elmarie Rabe

Stellenbosch Wine Routes Manager, Chairperson of the SA Wine Routes Forum

Words to live by: “Believing in yourself is not for you; it’s for every person who has touched your life in a significant way and for every person your life will touch the same way five minutes from now, or five centuries from now.”

After starting at Stellenbosch Wine Routes almost 10 years ago as an event and project manager, Elmarie says hard work, perseverance and making the most of every opportunity has helped her get where she is. “I’m always looking for learning opportunities and to develop myself. Naturally, Stellenbosch is her favourite wine region to explore. “It has so much to offer and to choose from. With regards to wine pairings, I love them all but I think the most unexpected is the Wine and Fynbos pairing at Bartinney; then there is the Wine at Salt pairing at Waterford Estate. I also recently did the Sensory Wine Experience at Hazendal, which was considered and perfectly curated and presented in the subterranean wine library, while the day guests traversed across the glass ceiling.”

What is currently in your glass?  This is such an unfair question and far too difficult to recommend one or even only two. I will narrow it down to “anything Stellenbosch”. I think the mood and occasion dictates what’s in my glass and what I recommend. I am constantly rediscovering wines.

The doer

Wendy Petersen

Operations Manager SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU)

Words to live by: To treat “… all people, no matter who they are and where they come from, with respect and dignity… living with your values, morals and faith every day and in all aspects of your life, forms the basis in which good decisions can be made.”

Transformation programmes have gained momentum under her leadership and with her technical and marketing experience and her love for mentoring, she helps wine entrepreneurs in various aspects of their businesses. “I love the space I’m working in, enabling small enterprises to develop. It’s as if all the pieces of my career puzzle are falling into place with my current position.” In her off time Wendy shares: “We are blessed to live within 30 minutes of the most beautiful wine regions, StellenboschFranschhoekWellington and of course Paarl, which is right on our doorstep.” They also gladly venture further to the Hemel-en-Aarde and Elgin Valley regions, as well as Robertson and the Swartland, depending on their adventurous mood. “We appreciate every wine region for what it is and what each one’s unique offering is

What is currently in your glass? A good cab franc, chardonnay, or petite sirah, which I gladly share with my most favourite person, my husband Stewart. Pairing the right wine or drink with the right food gives us so much pleasure and creates many special moments for Stewart and me.” 

The viticulturist

Rosa Kruger

Old Vine Champion, Consultant Vineyard Manager

Words to live by: “Put up a good fight and have a lot of fun!”

One of Rosa’s fondest memories in the wine world was “talking viticulture with Didier Dagueneau in France in a vineyard at the break of dawn during harvest, 17 years ago”. Then more recently she enjoyed a soil-specific sauvignon blanc tasting at The Black Oystercatcher in Elim, three sauvignons which were each grown on a different soil type, which she found fascinating. 

What is currently in your glass? 

Presently I am hooked on Barolo after another great tasting with Cathy van Zyl. I also love the Leeu Passant Chardonnay, from the Mullineuxs and Ploegperd, made by Anet from Fairview.

The sommelier

Brenda Karamba

Sommelier and restaurant manager of Majeka House, member of BLACC Cellar Club

Words to live by: Success through hard work.”

When not pouring guests her latest picks, Brenda loves nothing more than to explore the Winelands. “I recently visited Villiera Wine Estate for a wildlife drive and wine tasting. They have quite a few wild animals on their farm and it was an educational and open-air ride for almost two hours and then from there, we were treated to a wine tasting of their entire range of wines. I fell deeply in love with the stand-alone Gamay Noir.”

What is currently in your glass?  I was recently spoiled with a Vriesenhof Cabernet Sauvignon 1984, the year I was born, by my partner Shaun. Other than that I am enjoying the Peter Falke Kanoa Signature Blend, the Posthouse Merlot Blackmail, Haskell 11 Pillars

The empowerer


Ingrid Louw

CEO of the Association of Alcohol Responsibility and Education (Aware)

Words to live by: “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity.”

Ingrid says for her education and knowledge-sharing to ensure positive growth and sustainability started with her first love, teaching. “Inculcating a culture of continued empowerment for the collective is what will inform positive change.” She admires Kathy Jordan of Jordan Wines. “Her passion for her craft and exceptional contribution to creating a space and opportunity to empower women in the wine world is formidable. Not to mention – Jordan Wines offer a little something for each occasion and the wine farm is a testament to what gems the SA wine industry has to offer.”

What is currently in your glass?  Rupert and Rothschild Classique always lives up to its name – it’s a deep breath at the end of a day as you snuggle in front of the fire. It enhances culinary experiences, and good food should always be matched with a good wine, as well as the senses. I also have to admit that I have a weakness for Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel. There is no better way to enjoy a beautiful day, celebrate, and share a smile.

The courageous

Malmsey Rangaka

Owner and CEO of M’Hudi Wines

Words to live by: “A woman is like a good bottle of wine, she mellows with age. Love and nurture her when she is young and she will reward you when she is mature.

I had to lead my family away from their professional lives and everything they’ve known to enter into the winelands, a place and industry none of us knew anything about and we had to learn everything about wine farming and production, from scratch and succeed,” shared Malmsey. “My favourite wine tourism experience is not one where you stand at a wine tasting counter and taste numerous wines some of which you will not remember. My favourite is one where you go with your friends and get treated to a wine and food experience and you get to learn about the story and background of the establishment, its people, and the wine they produce, to get some experience about how to enjoy the wine paired with food.”

What is currently in your glass? 

I am swirling and enjoying my glass of M’hudi Pinotage with its red berries and dark chocolate aromas. On the nose it reminds me of red velvet cake and sour cherry. It has a medium palate but layered and rich. 

The educator


Lorraine Geldenhuys

Winemaker, lecturer and cellar manager at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute.

Words to live by: “My great-grandmother told to me to never say no when you can say yes! But my life’s experiences have taught me for everything you say yes to, you say no to something else!”

“I could never just make wine,” says Lorraine. “Working with people excites me and it’s a privilege to teach about a subject that I admire so much.” When not showing students how to do punch-downs, Lorraine loves to explore the Winelands, she says she recently visited Oldenburg Vineyards in Stellenbosch. “The staff were incredibly well educated having all done the WSET levels. The hospitality reminded me why I choose to stay and live in South Africa, not to mention the breathtaking views in the remote tasting rooms, in locations so close to the cities!”

What is currently in your glass?  I am drinking aged Rieslings from Germany, gone are the days where we think we should drink white wines as close as possible to today’s date. Riesling is especially a variety that evolves in the glass with finesse and becomes more complex and interesting as time goes by, much like people I’d say! 

The storyteller

Wanda Augustyn

Managing Editor Wineland Magazine

Words to live by? “In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum As a mom of two boys I always say to them they must decide how small or big their worlds will be because in the end this will guide what they love, understand and teach.”

As a managing editor for South Africa’s go-to industry magazine, Wanda spends a lot of time in vineyards, cellars and tasting rooms. “Our industry offers a plethora of wine experiences and it would be impossible to pick just one. But for a quiet family outing Under Oaks is a favourite, as it’s close to where we live and the wine and pizzas are just the best. With only boys in my life, Hazendal is also a favourite outing where we can satisfy the whole family’s needs: mom wanting a lazy Saturday lunch on the luscious lawns with good wine and the boys playing putt-putt or golf afterwards. And then there is KunjaniAvondaleEsona Boutique Wine EstateLouisvale Winery … the list goes on.

What is currently in your glass?

Currently and probably most frequently in my glass is Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc, because I am just never, ever disappointed.

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