SU celebrating five years of learning partnerships, talent and success with PYDA!

Stellenbosch University, through the Department of Viticulture and Oenology (DVO) and the Institute for Grape and Wine Sciences (IGWS) are celebrating nine years of engagement and five years of teaching and learning with the Pinotage Youth Development Academy this year.

The DVO involvement with this amazing organisation started back in 2009, when the Dame Hilary Cropper Foundation, a UK based charity, contacted us, and asked whether there was room in the South African wine industry for a centre of learning for unemployed, previously disadvantaged young people. Of course, we jumped at the chance to help, and were there every step of the way, from advisory board and feasibility studies, to curriculum development, and finally, to facilitate the technical aspects of wine studies each year at the fully-formed PYDA.

Our Teaching and Learning (T&L) interaction has grown from a short winemaking course, (in 2012/13), to a full year of intermittent but intense engagement with four SU-accredited modules (2 weeks each) in 2018. The modules include viticulture (Erna Blancquaert), winemaking (Marianne McKay and Marisa Nell), legislation and wine trade aspects  (Marianne McKay and Anne Alessandri) and sensory science (Jeanne Brand and Valeria Panzeri) for (now) fifty keen and dedicated young people. We are also very happy to be supported in our T&L by Nomonde Kubheka, a DVO alumnus who is now involved in many training initiatives in the wine industry.

T&L in Sensory science with the PYDA students as knowledge partners has taught us a huge amount about how wine is perceived, the associations made with it, and how very different every single person’s experiences of taste and smell are. The PYDA students are generally extremely perceptive ‘olfactionistas’ and put some of more seasoned wine-tasters to shame with their sensitivity to aromas, and their abilities to learn. PYDA students are helping us research the best ways to train people in olfaction and acuity in wine evaluation.

Since PYDA started classes in 2013, the academy has now successfully graduated 143 young, talented South Africans – into both the wine and fruit sectors with over 90% of them in employment within 6 months of graduating. They now have doubled in size, and have 2 classes of 25 students in our Wine/Wine Tourism Sector programme that started in January.  

PYDA graduates are being very well received by industry due to their development as professionals (through the programme) as well as their technical abilities. A recent independent monitoring and evaluation report, co-funded by SU and the PYDA, confirmed that the broader community impact of the 2018 programme, taking a conservative view of “4 per graduate” will be on 572 people.  More meaningful is the nature of that impact which speaks to “bringing back our dignity and taking us out of poverty”.    Two of the first PYDA graduates Olwethu Fana and Wandisa Maxiti (above third picture, first and sixth from left) were appointed as technical assistants at the Institute for Grape and Wine Sciences, and are now absolutely essential in the day to day running of the facility increasing throughput and capacity tremendously.

The PYDA motto “Launching talent to be the difference” is clearly paying off, and the DVO/IGWS are very proud to be part of the transformation this amazing organisation is bringing to communities around us.  As PYDA Director, Ms Nikki Munro has stated: “This amazing country of ours needs all of us to make change happen.”

1) Students of the 2018 intake of PYDA on the March Wine Sensory Evaluation course 2) Students in the lab assessing wines and learning about the aroma wheel. 3) The Sensory teaching team: Olwethu Fana (IGWS), Judy Williams (DVO), Valeria Panzeri (IGWS), Nomonde Kubheka (Independent facilitator), Marianne McKay (DVO), Wandisa Maxiti (IGWS) and Jeanne Brand (DVO).

Students of the 2018 intake of PYDA on the March Wine Sensory Evaluation course

Students in the lab assessing wines and learning about the aroma wheel

The Sensory teaching team

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