During August, the Drakenstein Local Tourism Association has been honouring female winemakers in the region in celebration of National Women’s Month. The finale female duo featured in their #winewednesdays campaign consists of Stephanie Wiid and Annette van Zyl from Fairview.
Stephanie has her roots firmly established in winemaking being the granddaughter of Niel Joubert with generations of horticulturalists and grape growers in her past. She started at Fairview as an intern after finishing her degree and received quite a wake-up call during her first harvest. “The course was theory heavy, but the practicality of a real harvest was astonishing. It is loads of work and you have to think on your feet, but it is also hugely rewarding.”
Stephanie feels comfortable in the traditionally male dominated world of winemaking and is glad that women in the industry are finding their voice and support through social media networks. “I am certainly treated as an equal in the cellar, but a lot of people are still surprised to hear what I do,” says the 31-year-old who is currently expecting her first child. A surprising side effect of the pregnancy was that she lost her sense of taste during her second trimester and is having to rely on her winemaking partner Annette to do the actual tasting. With the baby due in October, she is already preparing to be back in time for the 2019 harvest.
Like many winemakers in the Paarl region, Stephanie favours Chenin Blanc as a cultivar due to its versatility and honesty and reckons that Chenin will show where it was planted and how it was handled during the harvest and winemaking process. When picking a wine that most resemble her, she selected the Fairview Extraño, a Spanish style blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Carignan blend. “The wine softens as it ages, which is somewhat like me. People don’t often see me as warm and welcoming at first sight, but with time I open up to reveal my true nature,” explains Stephanie.
Annette van Zyl definitely agrees that women are making inroads in the winemaking industry as more women are appointed in decision-making positions in the business as well as getting involved with the daily running of the cellars. “There are many challenging aspects in winemaking as with any agricultural industry. Working with people and nature means that you constantly have to adapt to survive, but that is also what keeps things interesting. I love the blend of science and lifestyle as well as the constant challenge to grow and explore,” mentions Annette, who finished her studies in 2010 before deciding to do a master’s degree in oenology.
Her favourite cultivar is a Grenache due to its honesty. “It resembles a Pinot Noir, but is more forgiving. If I have to pick a wine that resembles me, it would be a Barolo, which is similar to Grenache, but a little more finicky. It needs time to age and has a thin, feminine structure with durability.”
This 30-year old yogi has found her balance in yoga during the past 10 years and says that it helps her to switch off and just be in the moment. Her advice to young women is to keep finding inspiration to keep your passion going and not to allow people to uninspired you. “Sometimes you just need to worry less and not overthink every decision. Just keep exploring and growing.”
Read more about Drakenstein’s Women in Wine on the blog at www.paarlonline.com.