Youth academy partnership to learn wine process from start to finish
Renowned Stellenbosch winery Delheim is partnering to create a milestone for graduates – some from previously under resourced areas – creating their own wine product, start to finish. Commencing with this year’s harvest, the group from the Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA) will get a basic introduction from business plans to harvest, vinification, maturation and eventual own-brand wine release.
The project is part of a long-term initiative that will see graduates create a commercial product from one barrel per year.
“We continue to be excited about ‘growing the future’ through these kinds of schemes,” says Nora Thiel, Delheim co-director with brother Victor. “The enthusiasm with which the graduates and the wine team have embraced the process truly embodies the Delheim slogan – Worth the Journey.”
Nora says that Delheim has always been involved in education programmes and the PYDA is part of this. “They have never been exposed to actual winemaking, so the concept was born to provide comprehensive understanding of wine realisation.”
Activities were further motivated by lockdown. “The group has been unable to do any practical outings so 2021 was a great time to let them get hands-on in the industry,” she adds.
Delheim has been a long-time employer of PYDA graduates since the training organisation’s establishment in 2012. Now, with this new intake, it’s a full-time Delheim employee and 2018 graduate of the PYDA, Nolubabalo Mokoena, who will help manage the process.
“Nothing makes me happier than to see PYDA graduates at work demonstrating their professionalism, passion and leadership,” says PYDA executive director Nikki Munro. “Nolubabalo is very well placed to lead this group and is a tangible example to new graduates of what their future can be.”
The founding aim of the PYDA is to develop young South African talent for employment.
Since its first class, 347 students have passed through its doors. Although not exclusively aimed at the wine industry, the academy has had 261 of the students embarking on wine sector training in this time. The wine programme consists of qualifications including the University of Stellenbosch Oenology NQF 5 short course as well as WSET 2.
Nora says that while PYDA students have been engaged in wine training, they’ve never been part of the process start to finish and this was the idea behind the latest initiative on the farm.
This intake will also receive input from award-winning winemaker Ntsiki Biyela, who has recently made Delheim her home base for her Aslina brand and is part of the project. Ntsiki also serves on the board of the PYDA.
The programme got underway at Delheim last week with an induction with basic information about the vineyard, cellar, wine tasting and overall aims. “It was a learning process not just for the newcomers, but for everyone involved,” says Nora.
The intention is to have the group bottle a barrel in coming weeks, so that they have wine to brand and sell. Details around the sale, such as brand, pricing and availability, are being finalised and represent part of the learning underway.
Follow @PYDAcademy on social media for announcements on the progress and release of the wine.
Delheim Estate is in the Simonsberg sub-region of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, on the Knorhoek Road, off the R44.