You started in 2002 as a female winemaker, which was rare, did you face any challenges as a woman at that time?
I was, and still am, fortunate to work alongside fantastic colleagues. I have received tremendous support not only from my peers, but also from individuals in various roles that are directly and indirectly part of the wine industry. So no, I do not recall any significant challenges when I started working in a predominantly male industry. That being said, perhaps on a subconscious level it did factor into shaping my work ethic. Since the start of my career, I have pushed myself incredibly hard and at times set unrealistically high standards. I have never shied away from doing the physically hard and taxing tasks. As I grew older, I realised that it is okay to ask for help every now and again.
What has been your proudest achievement/s in the wine industry to date?
That’s a tough question. Some of my personal, proudest achievements are small successes that others would find insignificant. For me it was those challenges that I was forced to overcome and ultimately pushed me to my limits that I am most proud of.
Those small achievements sometimes bring just as much value, if not more, than the bigger achievements that are often reflected in the form of awards, medals, and shiny trophies on a shelf. If I must choose one achievement, I would say that I am proud of is that after almost twenty-one years, I still have an almost child-like excitement for the upcoming harvests!
Why do you think more women should enter the world of winemaking in South Africa and around the world?
I think women can and should do anything they set out to do. Science, for me was always fun and a subject you can never stop exploring! If one adds wine with science, you could define it as scientific fun?! Yes, winemaking is a science – the term ‘oenology’ refers to the science of wine and winemaking. I think more women in the industry can help not only contribute to diversity in the industry, but also grow it.
I also recently read an article that stated women are now the largest percentage of wine consumers. So, it seems we are already taking over the wine industry, one sip at a time!
Any advice for aspiring female winemakers in South Africa and around the world wanting to also enter the industry?
Believe in yourself. Set goals. Work hard. If the odds seem stacked against you, just keep fighting until the odds are in your favour!