Praisy Dlamini – from sugar cane to grapes

Praisy Dlamini of Adama Wines, South Africa

Our third despatch from someone who has clearly benefited from the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé programme. See this guide to all of our recent coverage of South African wine.

Back in 2004 I took an interest in winemaking to challenge the myth that people from my province, Northern KwaZulu-Natal, appreciated umqombothi (local maize-based beer) more than wine. Sugar cane, not vines, dominate the farmlands of the province, including my own family’s farm. With a positive attitude and dedication, I learnt early on to turn my challenges into advantages.

Not only did I become proficient in Afrikaans, but after completing my BAgric degree at Elsenburg Cape Institute in 2007, I landed a three-year internship with the Cape Winemakers Guild, becoming the first woman CWG Protégée mentored by and working alongside some of South Africa's leading winemakers, which for me was a privilege.

After completing the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé programme in 2011, I secured my first full-time job at Distell, where I worked as assistant winemaker for Fleur du Cap at Die Bergkelder, then in September 2013 started with Zonnebloem wines. In 2015, I was appointed as a winemaker overseeing the blending and bottling cellar for most of Distell’s brands. I count myself immensely privileged to have been exposed to so many talented and generous people who have taught me so much.

In 2017, I joined Anchor Yeast as a technical sales manager where I further polished my skills in sales, budget management and maintaining sound client relationships. Little did I know that this was a stepping stone to joining the pioneers in transformation within the wine industry.

In 2019, I joined the Adama Wines team as general manager/winemaker of this majority Black-owned wine company that is 30% owned by women, and was mentored by Petrus Bosman, managing director of Bosman Adama. It is an honour for me to work with a family that embraces the richness of our history and focuses on young professionals’ empowerment in many different aspects, through planting grapes in different landscapes of the Western Cape, partnering with local wine manufacturers in ensuring that we maximise available capacity and also linking the supply chain within the biggest wine companies in South Africa and retail shops.

I am a quality-focused, thriving winemaker who really enjoys a considered way of working. I believe that every step you take has a very carefully reasoned rationale. I am a team player who is passionate about winemaking and the people I work with and impact daily, and I strive to produce exceptional wines of consistent quality.

When I am not working steering the ship in the direction of prosperity I, like any other aspiring, motivated winemaker, apply my talents in wine tastings by being a member of various tasting groups and wine judging. I love sharing stunning wines with friends and family. Most importantly I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking with my son. After realising that having a Cape Wine Academy Diploma is not enough, I decided to continue studying business management as I, now 33, believe you are never too old to learn something new and I hope that will inspire my son and many young people to grow up knowing that you need to work hard for the kind of life you desire.