Winemaking is an ancient craft, yet it consistently tells a tale of reinvention and manages to maintain its allure in contemporary society. Imbued with intrigue, wine’s life force depends on winemakers with an adventurous vinous spirit and the pioneering nerve to chart new paths to ensure that wine continues to spark curiosity. These character traits are entrenched in the DNA of the Malan family of Simonsig Family Vineyards.

Traditionally a male-dominated industry, Le Grand Domaine winemaker, Debbie Thompson, has proven that she’s a force to be reckoned with. Appointed in early 2020 she has already racked up numerous awards for this boutique brand.

This is only the second wine farm Debbie has worked at, as for the past 20 years, prior to this appointment, she worked at Simonsig under the mentorship of Johan Malan. Being the first female appointed winemaker at the farm, she spent 18 years concentrating mostly on the red wine making, before taking up the post as cellarmaster. Her move to Le Grand Domaine was, as Debbie describes it, a 180 degree move. Moving from a big cellar to a smaller, new cellar came with its own set of challenges. Not forgetting that she had to move away from thinking solely red wine and open her mindset to other varietals. Oh yes, and then also being appointed right at the start of a global pandemic. The latter not what she had in mind, but these are challenges she accepted, tackled them head on and turned these into their own successes.