WINE IS THE GREAT EQUALISER

Finweek English Edition - - LIFESTYLE -

Na­dia Barnard joined Waterk­loof, a bio­dy­namic wine es­tate in the Western Cape, as as­sis­tant wine­maker in 2009. In bio­dy­namic agri­cul­ture, an em­pha­sis is placed on or­ganic farm­ing and the ecosys­tem of which the pro­duce is a part. Af­ter five years of hard work and hard learn­ing, the 29-year-old was re­cently ap­pointed chief wine­maker at the es­tate. She is one of many young wine­mak­ers who are mak­ing their mark on South Africa’s cel­e­brated viti­cul­tural in­dus­try and at in­ter­na­tional winer­ies in des­per­ate search of South African wine­mak­ing ex­per­tise.

Like many young South African wine­mak­ers, Barnard worked in Aus­tralia, New Zealand and France be­fore putting down roots in the Western Cape, where most of SA’s fa­mous wines are pro­duced.

At Clos Malverne in Stel­len­bosch, an­other 29-year-old wine­maker, Suzanne Coet­zee, has taken over the wine­mak­ing reins from her pre­de­ces­sor and hus­band, Charl Coet­zee. With a grow­ing num­ber of women tak­ing over the del­i­cate wine­mak­ing process lo­cally, Coet­zee be­lieves it is be­com­ing eas­ier for fe­male oe­nol­o­gists to have a suc­cess­ful ca­reer.

“I’ve been told in an in­ter­view that the way I look counts against me be­cause wine­mak­ers need to be tough and work­men need to have a re­spect for their leader,” she says, but quickly adds, “I am much tougher than many men.”

De­spite the in­dus­try’s grow­ing ac­cep­tance of fe­male wine­mak­ers, Coet­zee still f inds that fe­male wine­mak­ers need to prove them­selves be­fore be­ing granted the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as their male coun­ter­parts, but this didn’t stand in the way of her suc­cess.

“You also don’t need to go around as if the world owes you some­thing,” she says. “If you are true to your­self, the right per­son will spot the po­ten­tial in you.”

Barnard agrees. “Grapes have no gen­der and wine­mak­ing is a tech­nique. Whether the wine was made by a man or a woman should not be rel­e­vant to the end prod­uct. I have al­ways been treated equally in the in­dus­try where the most im­por­tant con­tribut­ing fac­tor is your pas­sion for what you do. If you have that you

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