Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"You are hired.....!"

The year is 2002, a day before my final year exam at Stellenbosch University (South Africa). I get a phone call from a gentleman who introduces himself as Mr. Johan Briedenhann, and he invites me for a meeting the following day after my exam.

I can't remember the exact day or date (wish I could though) when I went to Distell Head Office in Dorp Street to meet Mr Hennie Heyl, group Director for production. I didn't know what the meeting was about or what to expect but I knew Distell was the biggest wine company in this land, south of Africa.

I was offered coffee, which I gladly accepted, then the conversations started. He was straight to the point. "What are your plans after you graduate?" Yo, where do I start to answer, I thought to myself?
This was the first time I was confronted by someone with this sort of questioning, not that I was not thinking about it.

Throughout the four years of studying at SU I 'knew' I would go back to Zim after completing my studies. It never occurred to me I could stay and work in the winelands in South Africa. My heart was set on going back and make wine at Mukuyu Winery in Marondera. I was excited about the prospects of returning home a qualfied winemaker. It meant a great deal to me to go back and 'shine' amongst my peers.

My answer was straight forward. " I am going back to make wine in Zimbabwe." I was so naive about the realities in Zim at the time (year 2002).

My conversation with Mr. Heyl touched on a number of aspects about my career as a winemaker. Did I mention that I did my internship in my final year at Fleur du Cap wines (Bergkelder), one of the wineries owned by Distell? 

This day, this meeting, changed my life. It opened up another world I never dreamt about. I knew I had to start a new dream. A dream that I have been living since.

I was hired and started working permanently at Fleur du Cap wines in January 2003 as assistant winemaker(white wine department) under Kobus Gerber.

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