Winemaking Team: Annelie Viljoen - Viticulturist/Grape Buyer

Even though all her classmates wanted to become winemakers while completing her Honours degree in Oenology and Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, Annelie Viljoen, newly appointed viticulturist at the Adam Tas cellar and the first woman grape buyer to be appointed by Distell, chose the vineyards and the prospect of working outdoors over a career in the cellar.

ANNELIE VILJOEN, VITICULTURIST/GRAPE BUYER
Even though all her classmates wanted to become winemakers while completing her Honours degree in Oenology and Viticulture at Stellenbosch University, Annelie Viljoen, newly appointed viticulturist at the Adam Tas cellar and the first woman grape buyer to be appointed by Distell, chose the vineyards and the prospect of working outdoors over a career in the cellar.

Born into a family where agriculture is a way of life with a father who is a soil scientist and lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch definitely played a role in her career choice. "Science fascinated me from a young age and while I was growing up in the Winelands surrounded by vineyards I couldn't help but fall in love with them," says this passionate viticulturist who is a mom to two little toddler boys and married to De Wet Viljoen, winemaker at Neethlingshof Estate.

As Zonnebloem viticulturist, Annelie is entrusted with the vineyards of approximately 30 producers, many of whom have been producing grapes for Zonnebloem for over three generations. Annelie is well aware of how crucial her role is in the winemaking process. In her day to day activities she is involved in vital planning on the various farms throughout the year assisting the producers with the necessary technical expertise in viticultural practices ensuring the best possible quality grapes for the Zonnebloem range of wines. Annelie will also be responsible for negotiating contracts for the grapes, liaising with the producers and coordinating the entire harvest delivered to the cellar.

Prior to joining Zonnebloem, Annelie was a lecturer in viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural College where she helped develop the viticulture degree course for third year students. Her career path, however, started in the vineyards at Lourensford and Lanzerac where she was viticulturist between 2002 and 2006. Winning the Winetech/ Vinpro vineyard block competition in 2005 and 2006 consecutively with blocks from Lourensford proved that this go-getter is set to conquer this male dominant environment.

Travelling overseas to leading wine regions such as France, California, Australia and New Zealand was an eye opener and showed Annelie that there is more than one way of doing things.

When she is not in the vineyards or tending to her boys, Annelie and her husband, enjoy experimenting with different food and wine combinations and furthering their knowledge through cooking courses.

Personal Perspective:
"The vine is a tough plant that is content with the minimum, it has so much to offer, and we just need to manage it correctly. This plant will do everything in its power to bear fruit annually, no matter what the circumstances are. Therefore we need to handle it with respect. After studying the vine for thousands of years, we still learn something new about it every day."

Zonnebloem Wines
+27.218097000