Kayamandi Student , Aphelele Mvamva lands rare opportunity to fast-track her career in wine

Congratulations are in order for Aphelele Mvamva from Kayamandi in Stellenbosch, as she’s been chosen as the first Drostdy Hof Graduate in a novel skills accelerator programme that will see her spending 2020 learning from some of the best minds in South Africa’s wine industry.

The year-long mentoring project, designed to fast-track her career in wine, will expose her to specialists in wine-growing, winemaking, sustainability, marketing and consumer trends. She will also spend several weeks in Sweden, one of the popular brand’s key markets, meeting consumers and members of the retail and restaurant trade.


The 21-year-old alumna of the Stellenbosch-based Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA), an independent organisation that prepares disadvantaged young matriculants for jobs in the wine, tourism and allied sectors, was hand-picked for the Drostdy Hof Graduate programme in a rigorous selection process. 


According to Liezl Dippenaar, Drostdy Hof’s international marketing representative, the brand chose to partner with PYDA, given its excellent track record in technical and on-the-job learning, and its accent on the personal development of students. 

“All the short-listed candidates are PYDA graduates from the class of 2019. While each was a worthy contender in her own way, what gave Aphelele the edge, apart from her solid academic record and good inter-personal skills, was her hunger to succeed.  She clearly shows an appetite for the hard work required to upskill herself in just one short year. She has tremendous energy, wants to make a difference in other people’s lives and one day envisages having her own business.


“Also, she totally gets what a rare and spectacular opportunity this is for her personal and career growth. She will be mentored by the likes of Andrea Freeborough, one of the country’s most decorated winemakers, who will be exposing her to wine-growing and cellar practices, as well as to leading sustainability specialist Jacques Rossouw. Plus, she’ll be spending time with Bridgitte Backman, an expert in corporate and regulatory issues with a special interest in mentoring young and talented South Africans. She’ll also be working with top marketing talent and have the chance to meet members of the wine trade and consumers in South Africa and in Sweden.”


Mvamva, who matriculated from Makupula Secondary School in Kayamandi, has described herself as someone who “builds good relationships” and who is “adaptable, a fast learner and has good listening, creative and writing skills.”

From left to right: Christian Midhed of the Altia Group, Drostdy Hof’s agent in Sweden; Eric Leong Son, Distell Group’s manager of sustainability; Aphelele Mvamva, the first Drostdy Hof Graduate; Liezl Dippenaar, Drostdy Hof’s global marketing manager; and Nikki Munro, principle of the Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA)


Dippenaar explained that the Drostdy Hof Graduate Programme had been conceived as part of the brand’s wider social and eco-sustainability drive. “It’s just one way we work towards creating the future rather than merely responding to it.”  She added that Aphelele’s team of mentors was also looking forward to learning from her. “We see this initiative as a two-way learning process.  We want to understand her priorities, her dreams for South Africa’s wine future and hear from her how we should be talking to her generation.

In addition to running the Graduate Programme, Drostdy Hof funds PYDA’s core wine qualification for all 50 its annual student intake. The wine module is facilitated by the University of Stellenbosch.

Drostdy Hof, together with PYDA, plans to run the Drostdy Hof Graduate programme as an annual initiative.

About the Pinotage Youth Development Academy

Working with students aged 18 to 25, PYDA has been in operation since 2012, supported by a range of local and international private sector funders and charity foundations.  It structures its courses with input from the wine and tourism sectors to ensure appropriate learning. To date, over 90% of its graduates have been placed in jobs within six months of completing the course.

Photography by Keli van der Weijde


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