Monique de Villiers is the assistant white winemaker at the ever-popular Boland Cellar and forms part of the Women in Wine initiative launched by the Drakenstein Local Tourism Association during National Women’s Month. A series of #winewednesdays in August acknowledges the role played by female winemakers in the region.
Growing up on a farm in Mpumalanga, Monique was always interest in nature, but winemaking did not feature as a career choice before her uncle visited France and kickstarted her interest. She started studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Stellenbosch, but changed to viticulture after the wine bug had truly bitten.
She began her journey in the wine industry at Delheim and readily admits that this experience changed her life. She views Natasha Williams, a former winemaker at Nederburg, as one of the most influential mentors in her career. “I learnt so much from her about not only winemaking practices, but also about relationship building and people skills. She is a great example for women in the industry and definitely made a huge difference.”
Although winemaking has it challenges, Monique maintains that wine is a form of art and winemaking is therefore very suitable for women. “We should just believe that we are able to do anything and not step back or doubt ourselves. I think women are more in tune with our senses, so we can definitely give the men a run for their money. Winemaking is a process and you should never stop learning. Every day should give you something to take forward,” explains Monique.
She loves the versatility of Chenin Blanc and one of her favourite wines is their One Formation white blend due to its fullness, flavor and length. However, she compares her personality to the Malbec varietal. “Malbec can be stubborn in a positive way. It tends to hide its grapes under the large leaves, so it definitely has hidden depths and tastes amazing when it is handled well.”
In addition to being a passionate winemaker, Monique is also a very talented artist. Having grown up in an arty family, she was looking for a creative way to express herself and now paints in wine and coffee, which is very similar to her favourite medium watercolours.
Sharing her passion is important to her and she will be a guest artist at a stress and anxiety management course presented by Hive Sessions at the Devon Valley Hotel on Saturday, 25 August. Her love of art has inspired her to do a course in graphic design and she also designs wine labels and logos in her free time.