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Wine graduates create hand-crafted Pinotage brand — it will be passed on from barrel to barrel

Business Insider SA
7 of the 9 initial uLutsha project group members marking their achievement. (Supplied)
7 of the 9 initial uLutsha project group members marking their achievement. (Supplied)
  • The group of graduates launched uLutsha Pinotage 2019, at the Stellenbosch wine estate in February. 
  • The long-term partnership with Delheim wine estate and the Pinotage Youth Development Academy aims to give graduates a holistic experience of the winemaking industry
  • PYDA graduating classes will all experience making a barrel of Pinotage from scratch. 
  • For more stories visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za

A Stellenbosch wine estate and the Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA) have collaborated with nine wine-making graduates to create a barrel of a signature hand-crafted Pinotage wine. Only 230 limited edition bottles of the uLutsha Pinotage 2019 exist.

"We hope in years to come to be in stores, said graduate Ziyanda Njalo. 

This long-term partnership will cultivate what they hope will be "a legacy element" which will see future graduates bottle wine passed on from barrel to barrel.

The second group of graduates have since begun their learning experience which requires them to create their own barrel from start to finish. The wine will then be bottled by the following group, with the current group bottling the former group's barrel. The second group is expected to bottle the next barrel in the coming weeks.

Legacy in a bottle (Supplied)
Legacy in a bottle (Supplied)

It took the group three months to create their marketing and business plan as well as their brand name uLutsha, which means "youth" in isiXhosa.

The wine has an upfront nose with red berries, juicy ripe plums, hints of chocolate and vanilla as flavour notes. Njalo says they were able to cultivate a medium full-bodied wine with firm tannins and medium acidity."

Legacy in a bottle. (Supplied)
Legacy in a bottle. (Supplied)

Wine making is no easy task. She says the misconception of wine making is that it is perceived as "easy work".

Njalo told Business Insider South Africa that the grapes were sourced from Delvera Vineyards where they were hand-harvested, then destemmed with a machine, and then bucket pressed, "and we did punch downs by ourselves," she adds. It was then matured in a 2015 French Oak Barrel for 14 Months.

With a culmination of learning and experience they were exposed to the financial and marketing business and the field work of vineyards, winemaking and bottling. Nora Theil, Executive Director at Delheim said, "The aim was to give them an in-depth and complete understanding of how a company works; a seamless grasp of the inter-connectedness of everything. From root to bottle and everything in between."

Tuanni Price (winemaker and owner of Zuri Wine Tasting) and Ntsiki Biyela, (PYDA board member and owner Aslina Wine) tasting uLutsha.
Tuanni Price (winemaker and owner of Zuri Wine Tasting) and Ntsiki Biyela, (PYDA board member and owner Aslina Wine) tasting uLutsha.

Among those to first taste the wine was Nomonde Kubheka, winemaker now wine educator who makes up the list of winemakers, Delheim, and PYDA personnel who helped guide the group throughout the process.

The next step according to Njalo is to market and sell the wine as well as finding investors. 

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