A young Parklands woman has landed a three-year internship with the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme.
Kelsey Shungking, 22, earned a degree in viticulture and oenology in December last year.
The guild offers students the opportunity to be mentored by South African winemakers who are part of it.
A different guild member will be her mentor each year and she will get to work at several wine estates.
Ms Shungking developed an interest in winemaking during her first year at Stellenbosch University.
“I began to immerse myself in the wine culture, which is so prominent in Stellenbosch.” Ms Shungking then made the “courageous decision” to change her degree from a BSc human life sciences to a BScAgric viticulture and and oenology.
“I have never looked back and it will remain one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. Winemaking offers me a platform to be expressive and creative while still being challenged by science. I love how no wine is the same and every vintage holds something unique.”
Ms Shunking said she was open to trying new wines and had tasted many international wines, which had helped to develop her palate.
Blends from the Rhône Valley in southern France sparked her interest, she said, while locally she’s drawn to a good shiraz.
“I love the richness of the cultivar and the multi-layering of fruit and spice that the wine presents. I really enjoy the complexity of white Bordeaux blends of sauvignon blanc and semillon. While sauvignon blanc brings fruit and freshness, semillon transforms the body of the wine and brings in a lengthy finish.”
The second year of the internship will see Ms Shungking travel to Burgundy, France, for a month during the harvest period.
“I’m so excited to be immersed in the French culture and be exposed to new tastes, new methodology and new people.”
She said it was a great honour to be part of the programme.
“To have this enormous opportunity of exposure, knowledge and experience at your feet once you step out of student life is unbelievable and I’m extremely grateful.”
Winemaker at Ernie Els Wines and member of the Cape Winemakers Guild, Louis Strydom, said: “We believe Kelsey has great potential and the protégé programme will act as a stepping stone for her to make a success of her career. As a three-year process, the protégé programme has a steep learning curve but offers these youth the opportunity to form part of a working wine estate environment and apply their technical and theoretical knowledge.
“The Cape Winemakers Guild aims to uncover the potential in our protégés and nurture it to equip them to reach their goals. Through the protégé programme, we lay a wonderful foundation for these students to build a career in the South African wine industry”.