Delheim Estate/PYDA learning partnership leads to uLutsha birth

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THE uLutsha wine brand was officially launched on 24 February 2022 at a celebratory event at Delheim Estate. It is the culmination of what began as a learning project and has now become the development of a brand by a team of young PYDA (Pinotage Youth Development Academy) graduates, the first of its kind.  

Ulutsha is an isiXhosa word for “the youth” and it is fitting that it was developed by a group of young, passionate wine graduates and aspiring business people. 

During 2021, the iconic Stellenbosch estate partnered with PYDA to enable PYDA graduates to create their own wine product, start to finish. Commencing with that year’s harvest, the group of nine from PYDA got a basic introduction from business plans to harvest, vinification, maturation and eventual own-brand wine release. Lockdown resulted in less exposure to actual winemaking, so the concept was born to provide a comprehensive understanding of the wine value chain and to get graduates hands-on in the industry.

The project is part of a long-term initiative that will see graduates create a commercial product from one barrel per year. The second group of five graduates came on board in February 2022 for their immersive learning experience. They then make the wine for the next group and will bottle the wine made by the previous group, bringing a legacy element to the process.

The first group collaboratively developed the brand uLutsha. It is intended that the brand will expand going forward to include other niche wine products and services. The initial 230 limited edition bottles of uLutsha Pinotage 2019 will be sold for R1000 per bottle specifically as an investment into youth development within the wine industry; the uLutsha brand, and its next phase of business development.   

Nora Thiel, Delheim Executive Director, says the estate has always been involved in education programmes and has been a long-time employer of PYDA graduates since the training organisation’s establishment in 2012. “They have never been exposed to actual winemaking, so the concept was born to provide comprehensive understanding of wine realisation.

“This project was launched as part of developing talent, and we will continue working on a model that can enhance the learning curve for the PYDA students. Our aim is to develop an all-inclusive structured learnership where students get to work across all departments in a company.”

Not only did the graduates learn about the vineyards, winemaking, and bottling but marketing and sales; social media, and financial mentoring and training sessions  were provided to them. “The aim was to give them an in-depth and complete understanding of how a company works; a seamless grasp of the inter-connectedness of everything. From root to bottle and everything in between,” explains Nora.  

The intention is to have the second group bottle a barrel in coming weeks for sale. Contact [email protected] should you want to order wine. For more information about PYDA, click here, or follow @PYDAcademy on social media for announcements on the progress and release of the wine.

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