Howard Booysen, the first aspiring winemaker to be selected for the Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Programme, has just completed his three-year internship honing his skills and knowledge of the wine industry under the guidance of some of the country’s top winemakers.
“My internship programme has come to a close. It was a lifetime experience which I am very grateful for,” said Howard. Over the past three years, he has worked alongside some of the finest winemakers in SA including Carl Schultz at Hartenberg Estate, Bruce Jack at Flagstone, Pieter Ferreira at Graham Beck Wines and Gary Jordan at Jordan Wine Estate. Howard also travelled to the US during his time with Bruce Jack and worked at Ravenswood Vineyards in Sonoma County.
The mentoring programme is a unique one in the SA wine industry involving as it does the hands-on experience and guidance of winemakers of this calibre. Their vision is to cultivate and nurture winemakers from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to become winemakers of excellence. Howard was the first to embark on the programme after completing his final year of study at Elsenburg Agricultural College in 2006 and Praisy Dlamini, the Guild’s first woman protégé, is currently in her second phase of the internship programme as we speak.
In addition to super-honed winemaking skills, Howard himself brings a whole raft of talents to the table. When I first met him last year doing promotions on behalf of Flagstone, he completely charmed everyone in sight - whether it was with his wines, his personality or his lovely dark eyes, I wouldn’t like to say! Currently, Howard is wowing diners at Cape Town’s prestigious Aubergine Restaurant as a sommelier whilst he prepares the maiden release of his own-label wines (A Riesling and a Pinot Noir – YUMMY!) which will be released next year. Watch this space to see what he turns his hand to next, but I am sure there is plenty more success in store for this young man.