Shining the Spotlight on Female Winemakers of South Africa

Words: Crush

South Africa’s wines are world-renowned. Pinotage, Pinot Noir and Shiraz are just some varietals that are made to perfection and people travel from far and wide to experience them. In honour of Women’s Month, and our general obsession with all things wine, we thought we’d highlight some of the amazing female winemakers in South Africa that are making waves in the wine world.

Andrea Mullineux of Mullineux Family Wines

Mullineux Family Wines was established in 2007 in the Swartland region of the Western Cape, by Chris and Andrea Mullineux. Andrea originally hails from San Francisco where she studied viticulture at UC Davis. Her early years working on harvests in Napa Valley set her up well for a fruitful career in the wine industry. She worked in Stellenbosch before moving to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France, where she met her now husband, Chris who (thankfully) brought her back to South Africa.

Andrea joined the Cape Winemakers Guild in 2014, and was awarded ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by Wine Enthusiast in 2016. Andrea focuses on dry-farmed Mediterranean varietals.

We recommend… The Mullineux Kloof Street Chenin Blanc


Margaux Nel from The Fledge & Co and Bo Plaas Family Vineyards

Margaux Nel has been destined to work with wine from the day she was born. Being the 7th generation winemaker of Nels from Boplaas in Calitzdorp, Margaux’s passion for winemaking runs deep. She has a BSc degree in Viticulture from Stellenbosch University and an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch Business School. Her research is grounded in practice and experience, having travelled to many wine producing countries and regions.

We recommend… Gamka Reserve 2015


Jamie Williams from Nederburg

Jamie Williams is assistant white-winemaker at Nederburg wines and, despite her age (29 years old), has a wealth of knowledge built up from years of study and experience. Born in the Cape Flats to a single mother, Jamie grew up in Retreat. She always had an interest in science, and after high school she studied Molecular Biology and Bio Technology at the University of Stellenbosch, where she took up a module on wine technology. ‘The rest is history’, as they say, and she’s been working at Nederburg wines since 2018.

We recommend…Nederburg Baronne


Ntsiki Biyela of Aslina Wines

In 1999, Ntsiki Biyela received a scholarship from South African Airways to study winemaking. Since then, she has grown from strength to strength and has encouraged diversity and transformation in a predominantly white South African wine industry. In 2007, Ntsiki opened her own winery, Aslina Wines, which has consulted wine farms in France and has made a wine for the Winemakers’ Collection.

We recommend… Aslina Umsasane 2019


Nadia Barnard-Langenegger from Waterkloof

South African wine brands

Nadia Barnard-Langenegger spent five years as an assistant winemaker at Waterkloof before graduating to winemaker in 2013. Her passion for winemaking started from a young age and led her to study Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch. She has worked in South Australia, New Zealand and France, and brings her extensive knowledge to her practice to create delicious, unique South African wines.

We recommend… Seriously Cool Cinsault 2020


Charla Bosman from Sijnn Wines

Charla Bosman, winemaker at Sjinn Wines, has worked local harvests at Kanonkop, Tokara, and harvests abroad at Margerum, California. She brought her experience to the Malgas winery and delivers delicious, unique wines through natural farming and winemaking methods.

We recommend… Sijnn White 2019


Trizanne Signature Wine

Trizanne Barnard, owner of Trizanne Signature Wines, graduated from Stellenbosch University with a degree in viticulture and oenology. She worked multiple vintages abroad and upon returning home in 2004, was offered the opportunity of starting Anwilka Wines in conjunction with Klein Constantia role-players and Bordeaux winemakers. In 2008, she decided to start her own brand, and Trizanne Signature Wines was born.

She focuses on two very diverse wine regions, namely Elim and the Swartland. Trizanne Signature Wines creates a wide and delicious range of lesser-known varietals.

We recommend… Reserve Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc 2019


Craven Wines by Jeanine Craven

Jeanine Craven’s winemaking career started with visiting the wine co-op as a child with her father to deliver grapes. The aroma of crushed and fermented grapes is one of Jeanine’s earliest memories of wine. She and her husband Mick first met working a wine harvest in Sonoma, California, and since 2013, have established themselves as revolutionaries. Jeanine’s aim is to make honest, bright wines that tell a story about the special site on which the grapes were grown. Craven Wines is best known for their Pinot Gris and Cinsault, and they also make delicious Cabernet Sauvignon. 

We recommend… Cabernet Sauvignon 2021


Genevieve Méthode  Cap Classique by Melissa Genevieve Nelsen

Genevieve MCC launched in 2010, and was inspired by Melissa’s passion for Cap Classique. Having once planned to become a pilot, these days Melissa is celebrated for her blue label Zero Dosage Blanc de Blancs, which is aged on the lees for 4 years. Produced from old Chardonnay vines in Botrivier, her sparkling wines embody an elegant, classic style. Her 2015 and 2016 Blanc de Blancs respectively earned 94 points and 93 points by Tim Atkin, and the critics couldn’t agree more.

We recommend… Genevieve Blanc de Blancs Brut 2017


Glen Heatlie by Joan Heatlie

Grenache Blanc lover, Joan Heatlie, set off on her own after working at Solms-Delta and Mullineux. The name Glen Heatlie traces its roots back to her 1880s family farm where her great-grandfather produced Heatlie’s Brandy. Joan’s interest in winemaking was sparked when she helped out with pruning and odd vineyard jobs on the family grape and citrus farm during school holidays.

She’s best known for her Glen Heatlie, The Frontier Grenache Blanc, which garnered 4.5 stars from Platter’s Wine Guide and 90 points from Tim Atkin in 2021. Joan’s approach to winemaking is, “being respectful of terroir, regenerative vineyard management and natural vinification methods”.

We recommend… Glen Heatlie Grenache Blanc 2019


Lelie van Saron by Natasha Williams

It was Natasha’s school career counsellor who first identified that she would make an excellent winemaker, given her interests. She went on to graduate from Stellenbosch University with a degree in Oenology, did a stint in California and travelled through France before settling as a winemaker at Bosman Family Vineyards — the very place from which she sources the grapes for her personal venture, Lelie van Saron.

She started with a Chardonnay and Syrah and recently expanded her range. Natasha creates wines with a pure expression of the terroir and grape variety, using natural methods. Natasha believes that it’s best to “follow a minimal approach to winemaking – crafting wines with purity, harmony and balance.”

We recommend… Lelie van Saron Chardonnay


Momento Wines by Marelise Niemann

It may have been a ‘skelm’ glass of Tassies at a school dance, that kindled her curiosity for winemaking, but Marelise Niemann has since gone on to produce elegant and pure wines with sound structure and texture. Having cut her teeth in California and as winemaker for Beaumont Wines, Marelise picked her first Grenache for her solo project in 2011 and then launched Momento Wines in 2013.

Working with old vines in Botriver and the Swartland, she’s recognised for her graceful wines, which place terroir front and centre. The vine on her labels is hand-drawn by her husband, artist Hennie Niemann Jnr., and depicts an old vine and various personal characters. “Above all, I set out to make wines that speak of the place they come from — wines that reflect the character and energy of the vineyard, rounded off by pure and natural winemaking in the cellar,” says Marelise.  

We recommend… Memento Grenache Noir 2019


VineVenom by Samantha Suddons

After completing her studies with the Cape Wine Academy, and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, Samantha Suddons, has gained a wealth of experience. She has since worked at prominent wineries such as Mullineux, Terracura, Silwervis, Smiley Wines and Reyneke. The latter made the greatest impression and exposed her to low intervention, biodynamic and organic farming.

Samantha’s winemaking practices include, “exploring creative, minimal intervention winemaking that weaves together the grape’s terroir and my own unique approach resulting in honest, individual wines”. As such, VineVenom produces wines from sustainably farmed vineyards, focusing on quality over quantity to express terroir. Oxidatively aged under flor, her Shining Rosé is perhaps her most celebrated wine. “While this might sound ‘scary’ to some, it adds an intensity, richness and saltiness that is quite unexpected and intriguing,” says Samantha. 

We recommend… VineVenom Shining Rosé

Want to learn more about wine varietals, read up on Merlot, Rosé, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and MCC.

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