At Bosman Adama we don’t just grow grapes, we grow people too, and it is often the women who make us proud. Sure, we have female winemakers, but behind the scenes there are many women, born and bred on the farm, who started out as vineyard workers but in a few short years have moved up into positions of responsibility.

Monique

Monique Appollis (38), Technical Vineyard Assistant Manager

“After school I started working on the farm because that was all the work there was. But then I started to see how my work in the vineyards affected the quality of the grapes we harvested. So I worked harder, and I was given more responsibility and today I manage the teams that work in the vineyards.”

“After school I started working in the vineyards with everyone else,” begins Monique. “The work didn’t really interest me; it was just a job. But then I joined a group of older women working with the young vines. They were experienced and I got to learn from them how to trellis a vine. I learnt how my work could make a difference to the quality of the grapes in the end.” From there Monique was appointed as a supervisor to a group of women: “It was difficult because I had to manage people older than me, but the farm management saw my potential and I had to do myself proud.” Monique quickly moved to line manager and for the last three years she has been the Assistant Manager, to Technical Manager Dan Swart, with three groups of women in her charge.

“This is the first harvest that I have managed the vineyards completely on my own. From pruning and suckering all the way to harvesting, these healthy grapes are my handiwork, and I am very proud because we have not had any disease and the yields are very good,” she continues, honouring Dan for his mentorship, but at the same time declaring her ambition to become a manager too someday. 

“If you love what you do then the result will be great.”

Leandra

Leandra Appollis (40), Line Manager: Grafted Cuttings

Early on my manager gave me extra responsibility because he said he could trust me and the workers respected me. I like my job and I am proud of myself.”

Born and bred on the farm, it was a natural progression for Leandra to join the harvest pickers after school. But she particularly liked working with the grafted cuttings. Jannie Bosman saw her potential and started giving her more responsibility: “He said he could trust me and rely on me and that I had the respect of the other workers and was good with discipline.” So it was not surprising when the workers nominated her as their line manager, a job she has been doing with dedication for 12 years now. During the summer months her team takes care of the grafted cuttings in the fields, and then in the winter she and her team move into the warehouse to manage the grafting and classing processes.

“I like my job and I am proud of myself.”

Andreas

Andreas Samuels (29) Tractor Driver

On the Bosman farm we have found that women are generally much better drivers. They are more careful, and more intuitive so we don’t have many accidents, tyres last longer and the soil is not compacted by reckless driving. “I enjoy driving. Now I want to learn to drive a big truck.”

Technical Manager Dan Swart realised that training women to drive tractors was a sustainable move: “Women are generally much better drivers. They are more careful, and more intuitive so we don’t have as many costly accidents, the tyres last longer and their careful driving is better for the soil as they don’t cause as much compaction or erosion.”

Four years ago, Andreas was working in the vineyards when PD Bosman singled her out for a two-day tractor driver’s course. Having never driven any vehicle in her life, she amazed even herself by passing first time. “I struggled in the beginning but now I enjoy it,” she says, happy also with the wage increase that goes along with the licence. “Now I want to learn to drive something else, like a big truck,” she says. “I think I am ready for the challenge.”

Mariaane

Mariaan Samuels (39) Nursery Tunnel Manager

“As Tunnel Manager my job carries great responsibility because I am dealing with very delicate plant material that needs consistent care to produce reliable results for the Nursery.

“I love my job. Every day is a challenge because aspects like the weather, disease and the soil health, impact my work. I am becoming a specialist, and I am proud of that.”

Like everyone else, Mariaan started out working in the vineyards, but her potential was soon spotted and she was appointed the manager of the Chemicals Store. “In those days,” she explains, “the workers just helped themselves to the various chemicals, but sometimes there were problems. So I was put in charge of keeping the store in order and handing out the various herbicides and pesticides so that we could make sure we were using the right products for their purpose and that the stock was kept under control.”

But one day Jannie Bosman came to her and said: “Mariaan, you’ve reached your ceiling here, I think you are ready for more responsibility.” And so Mariaan became the Tunnel Manager in the Bosman Adama Vine Nursery. There she looks after the new plants that are propagated in the laboratory. These can be new grape varieties or new rootstock varieties that are being trialled, but also can be plants that have been cleaned of virus. “It’s a very responsible job because I am dealing with very delicate plant material that needs consistent care to produce reliable results for the Nursery.”

“I love my job. Every day is a challenge because aspects like the weather, disease and the soil health, impact my work. I am becoming a specialist, and I am proud of that.”

Women Empowering Women - Amanda

Amanda Small (35) Quality Assistant

“My job is to receive all the dry goods like the labels and corks, and also to inspect the quality of everything we do in the warehouse.” 

“I love my job, and I learn so much every day. I can definitely see a future for myself here.”

The daughter of Bosman Adama vineyard workers, Amanda worked in a nearby factory after school. But soon, she realised that working on the farm was a better option so got a job in the warehouse cleaning bottles, sticking on seals, dipping bottle tops in wax and working on the labelling line. After a while she started helping Quality Manager Verna Ross with inspections. So when the business moved into larger premises, Amanda moved too and became the Quality Assistant, completing a six-month course in Quality Control and doing a few short courses along the way to upskill herself. “My job is to receive all the dry goods like the labels and corks, and also to inspect the quality of everything we do in the warehouse.” 

“I love my job, and I learn so much from Verna. I can definitely see a future for myself here.”

Women Empowering Women - Nichole

Nichole van Wyk (26) Production Clerk

“I have learnt so much about what goes into producing a wine. It is such a complicated process! People just see wine in a bottle, but they don’t think about the bottles and labels and screwcaps and all the other dry goods that need to be ordered. But there is still so much for me to learn!

Nichole’s family has lived for generations on the Bosman Adama farm, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to follow the same route after school so completed a six-month Job Readiness programme through local NPO First Step. “After that I joined Radio KC as a volunteer and helped with administration work and compiling the news. I loved that job and realised I was good at administration so I registered for the Management Assistant course at Boland College, doing my 18-month internship in the Logistics office at Bosman Adama.” Recently Nichole was appointed to a permanent position as Production Clerk where she is responsible for the complex documentation process involved in making wine.

“I have learnt so much about what goes into producing a wine,” she continues. “It is such a complicated process! People just see wine in a bottle, but they don’t think about the bottles and labels and screwcaps and all the other dry goods that need to be ordered. There is still so much for me to learn,” says this organised dynamo who has declared her next ambition is to study Supply Chain Management.

Women Empowering Women - Jody-Ann

Jody-Ann Appollis (35) Export Clerk

“I like my work. It’s especially challenging when there is a crisis or a late order and I have to jump around to solve the problems and get the order out. It’s so rewarding to get the job done, even under pressure.”

After school Jody-Ann spent a year at Boland College studying to be a Management Assistant. But money was tight so she started working on the farm and later on moved into the cellar and became the Store Manager. The farm agreed to fund the remainder of her studies which she completed part-time. Once qualified Jody-Ann became the Logistics Assistant, but with the move to a larger production cellar, Jody-Ann was recently promoted to Export Clerk. 

“I like my work. It’s especially challenging when there is a crisis or a late order and I have to jump around to solve the problems and get the order out. It’s so rewarding to get the job done, even under pressure.”

Jody-Ann has served on the Fairtrade Management Committee for five years now, a position that has involved much training in systems and structures, as well as the responsibility of deciding how funds are spent. Her dedication was rewarded a few years ago when she was chosen to represent South Africa at an International Fairtrade Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

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