Letter to the editor: CWG needs to address diversity

By , 1 October 2021



The CWG in August, 2018.

The following received via email from Kris Snyman in charge of sales and marketing for Vrede en Lust:

In the build-up on social media to the Cape Winemakers Guild that happens this weekend, I noticed in the imagery that there is still a lot of progress to make in terms of diversity. Next year marks 40 years since inception of the Guild and currently we have only 3 female winemakers out of 42 members and zero of colour. The Guild’s much-vaunted Protégé Programme was launched in 2006 to promote transformation but hasn’t yet seen any participants filter into the main membership.

This contrasts with the corporates and big retailers where at least several women have been appointed to strategic positions such as Izele van Blerk at KWV, Andrea Freeborough at Distell and Danielle Coetsee at Boschendal. There are also quite a few women in senior sales and marketing positions across the industry. WOSA is almost all female-led and the editor of industry magazine Wineland is again female, that being Wanda Augustyn. The CWG seems to be the only industry body that hasn’t attempted a change except for making Andrea Mullineux the chairperson. There must be at least 50 female or previously disadvantaged people who could’ve been eligible to break into this membership over the last 10 years?

I am currently working with a female friendly estate so I could be considered to have bias, but I feel that if we are going to be able to access new wine drinkers in the country, we need to build a more inclusive environment.


2 comment(s)

Please read our Comments Policy here.

    Paul Benade | 1 October 2021

    Nonsense! If you are good enough and have proved yourself, you may get an invite. For any other reason one can just as well open it up to any Dick, Tom and Sally and become just another ordinary group of winemakers trying to sell wine. You are not a member. Why do you want to water down an institution that has done and achieved so much for the SA wine industry?

    Cathy Marston | 1 October 2021

    I am sure you will get a reply from Andrea shortly although I suspect she is busy with last minute details for the Auction so I am just going to add a couple of 10c here as possible clarification. I stand to be corrected but I believe that although all the above-named female winemakers are completely excelling in their field, I have a feeling that their employers may not permit them to make wines for anyone else – and the Guild would be considered someone else – so they can’t join. Also, it is worth remembering that there are quite hefty costs involved in being a Guild member and perhaps that might be a barrier to entry for smaller brands. Having said all that – I completely agree that although the CWG makes amazing wines, as a group, they do not represent the industry as a whole. I’ve been lucky enough to attend a lot of CWG functions and known many of the members for quite a long time and I are sure that they are all desperate to diversify their membership – they’ve all put in a lot of time and effort into nurturing new winemakers and they must be crying out to see those efforts rewarded with some new faces joining their ranks. Do they have to try even harder? Yes they do. What more can they do? I don’t know. But I bet it’s constantly on their minds and I reckon if anyone has any suggestions, they would probably be looked at seriously and taken on board if at all possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Like our content?

Show your support.