Describe your journey to becoming a viticulturist?
I started my agricultural studies with Viticulture and Winemaking as main subjects, but also got exposed to Soil Science as a subject. During the second half of the second year, I changed subjects to do Soil Science and Viticulture as main subjects as this combination was what excited me the most. My first job (temporary) in 2008 was working in the wine laboratory at Bergkelder for a few months before I lectured Soil Science at the University of the Western Cape for a while. I then started at an environmental auditing company called Enviroscientific where I worked closely in the wine but also other agricultural industries. David and I produced our first wine during 2010 (both still employed by previous employers). David was full-time involved in our business since 2013 and I joined permanently in 2016.
What is the essence of your wines / brands?
Our main aim is to represent the Swartland region, and to focus on varieties that are suited for this warm, dry region. We specifically focus on Chenin and Chenin-based blends, as well as Grenache and Grenache-based blends. We are based on the Paardebosch farm in the Paardeberg mountain where we get most of our grapes. The rest we source from other farms, but all within the Swartland boundaries. We focus on the soils and vineyards and practise minimal intervention in the cellar. We work with dry land farmed vineyards and especially on the white side, the focus is on old vineyards (we are also part of the Old Vine Project, wines that get a special seal if all the grapes come from vineyards at least 35 years old). But, establishing new vineyards are also important and necessary.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
The variety in what needs attention. No two days are the same.
Would you say it’s harder for a woman to get her foot in the ‘wine-making door’ or have things changed over the years in terms of female representation in the wine industry?
Tough one for me to answer due to the nature of our business/brand, David & Nadia. We are a team and therefore the woman is only half of the business. For a husband-and-wife team, I actually expierence that it attracts attention, especially since we studied together and met each other towards the end of our studies. So that is from my personal experience, but not necessarily the case for women viticulturist/winemakers as individuals. Things have definitely changed over the past few years and many more female figures are involved in the wine industry as opposed to ten/fifteen years ago. Did they have to work harder to get there? Yes, I do think so.
What have been some of your biggest challenges and successes?
Working with my husband (answer to both :-)) And that is not a joke, it is the truth.
Any advice for other women in the winemaking space?
Work hard and get the job done. How harsh it may seem: “The world does not care about the storms you encounter, only whether or not you bring in the ship.”