Jordan unveils women in wine initiative

Stellenbosch producer Jordan Wine Estate has set up a scheme to support women, both in the UK and South Africa, who want to pursue a career in wine.

Gary and Kathy Jordan

From 2013, the Jordan Wine Estate Women in Wine Initiative will sponsor the top female graduate from the UK’s Plumpton College for a two month harvest stint at the property.

The visit will also include the opportunity to visit other wine regions of the Western Cape, with the added possibility of experiencing the on-trade end of the industry through the Jordans’ London restaurant, High Timber.

In South Africa, the initiative will offer a “previously disadvantaged black female”, who is studying either journalism or marketing, sponsorship through their WSET Level 1-3 qualifications. There is currently talk of introducing the WSET Diploma in South Africa, in which case the sponsorship will extend to cover this as well.

Introducing the scheme, Kathy Jordan, who owns Jordan Wine Estate with her husband Gary, explained the decision to include the UK, which she described as “a very important market and the biggest importer of our wines.”

Turning to the South African element, Jordan pointed to an important shift during the last generation, commenting: “Through integration in the post-Apartheid era you see a lot of black students who are very interested in wine and how wine is made.”

However, she also noted that, with annual per capita wine consumption in South Africa standing at just 7 litres, a large proportion of the country’s population remain primarily beer drinkers.

Jordan explained the decision to focus on the marketing side of the South African wine industry, observing: “There’s lots happening in the townships around wine, but it’s not even the tip of the iceberg of what could be happening. The way to do that is through marketing, wine tastings and promoting wines.”

She also highlighted the progress that has already been made in encouraging South African women to pursue a career in wine, recalling: “When I started winemaking in 1983, there were just a handful of women winemakers.”

Now, however, Jordan pointed out that the University of Stellenbosch oenology department has seen an almost equal intake of men and women for the last eight years. “That’s pretty good going in 20 years,” she remarked.

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