Riebeek Valley Wine Company – A Firm Commitment to Mentorship

Friday, 3 July, 2020
Santi Basson
Riebeek Valley Wine Company is synonymous with quality wines, with a firm commitment to the development of cellar assistants’ knowledge.

According to Alecia Boshoff, chief winemaker, trained cellar assistants save a lot of time in the cellar, as a thorough comprehension about procedures would be established. Occasionally it happens that cellar assistants are on their own in the cellar, but they must be able to take responsibility and make informed decisions. It is therefore important that the knowledge gained during training are applied.

It is true that everyone has a need to improve themselves, but unfortunately many individuals are not willing to take responsibility and this is a choice which rests with everyone. Successful mentorship relationships are possible if this important choice has already been made. Alecia believes role models fulfill an important function in the workplace.

The Riebeek Valley Wine Company cellar assistants are regularly consulted to establish who would be interested to participate in training and in the transfer of knowledge. They are all passionate about the product they work with. However, literacy levels are increasingly a challenge, especially for temporary staff applying for available posts at the cellar.

The Riebeek Valley Wine Company Cellar Team

Pictured: A. Boshoff, E. Mnyango, T. Ntloko, J. Theron, B. Misitho, R. Fortuin, M. Mkhotywa, S. Mbendeni, M. Mfundisi, S. Goliath, S. Heynse, R. Joubert, D. Titus, S. Misitho, E. Geldenhuys, N. Sikundla, A. Nwitywa, M. Mavumengwana, F. Kulumpie, E. Swarts, C. Uren, A. Jojozi

Cellar assistants are often unwilling to commit to further training, as they are hesitant to admit that literacy levels might be a challenge. There is also a real fear that their work might be compromised because of this. It is a known fact that illiteracy levels has a negative influence on the confidence of individuals and should be considered as an obstacle in training and skills development. On the other hand, training and the successful transfer of knowledge promote individual confidence.

Riebeek Wine Valley Company supports both the Winetech study groups and the workshops for senior cellar assistants, as these projects make a difference in the transfer of knowledge. Eric Mnyango, senior cellar assistant, was named as one of the Top Ten cellar assistants of the Winetech study groups in 2019. According to Alecia, cellar assistants participating in the study groups, are empowered with knowledge and consequently their confidence develops, which results in greater responsibility accepted by them. Participants of the study groups can make informed decisions as they are exposed to new knowledge.

The Winetech study group facilitators, as well as established role models, play an important role encouraging cellar assistants to develop an interest in winemaking processes. Several successful informal mentoring relationships are well established in the cellar and senior cellar assistants, who act as role models, motivate and encourage fellow cellar assistants.  One of the roles of a mentor is to assist an individual to attach greater value to his abilities and to provide support to the individual. This approach is successfully applied in Riebeek Valley Wine Company.

The transfer of knowledge is successfully applied in the cellar from one person to the next, with role models playing an important role. Thus, Thembile Ntloko, assistant winemaker of Riebeek Valley Wine Company, acts as a mentor to inexperienced cellar assistants. These informal mentorship relationships ensure that employees experience greater work satisfaction and because of the nature of these relationships, mentoring can be maintained for a long period. Mentorship relationships also ensure guidance and support to fellow cellar assistants, which make a huge difference in productivity and satisfaction that cellar assistants experience in the Riebeek Valley Wine Company cellar.

The Riebeek Valley Wine Company Cellar Team
The Riebeek Valley Wine Company Cellar Team

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