Unsung wine workers honoured with prestigious 1659 medal of honour

Feb 2, 2018

wynoesherdenking 2018 wine harvest commemorative event

Dr Ernest Messina (Chairperson, Groot Constantia Board), Katazile Mtshikwana (Oom Tsotsi) (retired wine worker, Koopmanskloof), Awie Adolf (Cellar Master and shareholder, Fairview), Johan Ehlers (Chief Executive Officer, Agri-Expo), Nellie Cloete (retired wine worker, Groot Constantia), Hermanus Bienas (2017 winner of the Western Cape Prestige Agri Awards and Assistant Manager, Kys Nursery, Vredendal.

Unsung wine workers honoured with prestigious 1659 medal of honour

The unsung contributors to the wine industry were honoured with the iconic 1659 medal of honour on Thursday 1 February 2018 at the annual Wine Harvest Commemorative Event at the historic Groot Constantia Estate.

This medal has been awarded to significant role-players in the industry since 1974. This year, the Groot Constantia board decided to symbolically honour the voiceless and often faceless wine workers over the centuries by making them the collective recipient of the 1659 medal, as without them the wine industry could never have flourished.

Dr Ernest Messina, Chairperson of Groot Constantia, says this year’s award heralds a shift in emphasis of what was the practice until now: “Our purpose is to give a voice to all contributors, to bring to light new perceptions of historical facts and to confirm greater appreciation and respect for everyone’s contributions.

Dr Messina says he trusts this will usher in a tipping point for the industry – especially in changing attitudes, giving recognition and achieving unity. He emphasised that everyone’s stories must be told to create a more representative picture of the role-players.

“Described in wine language – the blend is more complete and thus better. In this way we achieve justice. This industry is owned by all of us as we are co-creators of the industry historically and presently. We must continue to build in harmony on the solid foundation laid by Simon van der Stel and so many others who will sadly remain anonymous.”

Unique to this event is the production of a DVD to bring to light lesser known facts, such as Simon van der Stel being a descendant of a free slave; to recognise the contribution of the slaves and indigenous groups such as the KhoiKhoi to the foundation and the preservation of the industry; and to give the opportunity to unknown voices to tell their stories with pride and dignity.

Representatives from the industry received the 1659 medal of honour on behalf of the wine workers. The award will rotate between different venues in the wine industry and will ultimately reside at Groot Constantia. The Wine Harvest Commemorative Event is made possible with the financial support and partnership of Groot Constantia Estate, Die Burger, Standard Bank, Vinpro, AVBOB and Agri-Expo.

Share This