August ushers in Women’s Month, 31 days dedicated to the fairer of the sexes. Here at Cybercellar, we are taking the opportunity to tip our hat to those wonderful women who bring us the wine we love so much. Women in the industry are making major strides in producing some of the best wine to come out of the country. We have put together a list of some of our favourite female winemakers for you to get to know them a bit better.
Rianie Strydom – Haskell Vineyards (Cape Winemakers Guild Member)
Rianie graduated from the University of Stellenbosch and began her career working vintage in Burgundy in 1996 and moving to St Emilion Bordeaux in 1998. She traveled extensively through Europe, America and Australia to soak in as many foreign processes as she could.
Rianie then spent ten years as the winemaker at Morgenhof Estate and after honing her skills there decided, in 2004, to take up the dual role of acting as Ge
neral Manager and winemaker at Haskell and Dombeya Wines in Helderberg. This move proved to propel the wines to award winning status. The Haskell Pillars Syrah 2007 won three trophies at the 2009 Tri Nations Challenge. It was the first time that a South African red wine had won such an acclaimed status.
She is responsible for creating Dombeya in 2005 and Haskell’s first release in 2009, which started raking in awards the moment it was released. She proudly holds the trophy for the first 5-star wine, which was the Morgenhof Premier Selection of 1995.
Rianie combines her love for science and nature in her winemaking and pours her passion into making distinctive, elegant wines that are totally unforgettable but yet still affordable. She has since judged various wine shows and is passionate about improving the breed of South African wine.
Andrea Mullineux – Mullineux Family Vineyards (Cape Winemakers Guild Member)
2004 seemed to be the year for the ladies of the moment. In this year, we were lucky enough to steal Andrea from the US when she moved to South Africa from the famous Napa Valley. Born and bred in San Francisco, Andrea had studied Viticulture and
Oenology at UC Davis and gained all of her experience at Cakebread, Viader and El Molino wineries. She began her South African journey with six months at Waterford Estate and it was during a trip to Chateauneuf where she met her now husband, Chris, at a wine festival in Cha
mpagne. Her passion for South Africa, Chris and being in the cellar brought her back to the country and Mullineux Family wines was born in its perfect location in the Swartland. She, like Riani, is a Cape Winemakers Guild Member.
Andrea focuses specifically on dry farmed Mediterranean varieties and insists on it being produced as naturally and classically as possible. Her absolute passion lies in the Harvest and she aims to win the Pichon Longeville Comtesse Laland trophy one day.
Ntsiki Biyela – Stellekaya Wines
Ntsiki is proudly the first black female winemaker in South Africa, which came as a surprise to her as she really fell into the industry by chance. She had earned a scholarship at the University of Stellenbosch and moved to Cape Town to study Oenology, prior to which, she had never tasted wine. But she earned her degree none the less, and went on to make huge strides in the industry. She settled herself at Stellekaya in 2004 (obviously a great year), as the resident winemaker. After her first production, she took a bottle back home to show her grandmother who wasn’t too impressed by the taste of it, but was incredibly proud of her granddaughter who was clearly making major leaps an
d bounds in the industry.
Stellekaya is a small boutique winery which has received various international awards thanks to Ntsiki’s genius. She has won the Landbouweekblad Woman Winemaker of the Year and currently judges various wine competitions. She has just come back from the US where she was a part of an African Women Entrepreneurship Programme. Her next step is going out by herself and establishing herself as an independent winemaker. This lady is definitely someone to look out for!
Marelise Nieman – Momento Wines
Marelise started her illustrious career in 2007 at Beaumont Wines in Bot River as the estates assistant winemaker. During these years, she spent a lot of time travelling and completing internships abroad in Burgundy (France), Priorat (Spain), Du
ro (Portugal) and Rhone (France). This extensive and varied experience pushed her to return and in 2011, started her own label called Momento. At the end of 2004 (I am sure you guessed it), and after cultivating the label, she went solo where she began to craft, make and manage her own wine.
She searches for the perfect fruit and method combination, uses a gentle and hands-off approach to the making of her wine and pushes as much passion
as she can muster in the creation of her passion. Her travels have pushed her to explore and make use of the uniqueness of the South African soils and vines. It has also allowed her to try out new and different methods such as open concrete tanks, whole bunches and natural yeasts.
Erika Obermeyer – Graham Beck
Entrenched in a childhood belief of doing whatever you do to the best of your ability, Erika has led the Graham Beck into award winning status on more than occasion. Her first harvest in fact, which she claims to be her pride and joy, produced the Pheasants
Run Sauvignon Blanc in 2005 and this wine remains to be the only one featured in the Wine Magazines Sauvignon Blanc Top 10 Awards since 2007. Her Ad Honorem earned a five star rating as well as lan
ded her the title of the Landbouweekblad South African Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2008.
She had begun her career in 1999 at Kleine Zalze, where she worked for five years with trips to France, America and Australia. She joined Graham Beck in 2005, a few days before harvest and took over the terroir, insisting on getting to know it like the back of her hand. She describes her style as elegant, earthy yet touched with finesse. She makes use of the old world elegance of wine making and delicately pairs it with new world fruit, styles and sunshine.