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Thembile Ntloko Rises to Success at Riebeek Cellars

Not every hero’s story features a fearsome dragon and a swift white horse. Some heroic tales hinge on difficult circumstances and the ability to see the opportunity for growth when it presents itself. The story of Thembile Ntloko and his rise to success at Riebeek Cellars is one of the latter, and something that lies close to our heart. Here’s how this inspiring man came into our lives and paved the way to the role of Assistant Winemaker for himself over the course of 17 years.

“I grew up in Colesberg in the Northern Cape, where my father worked on farms in the vicinity. Times were hard, and I only finished my schooling up until Grade 9 before I started working, but my parents were able to give me one wonderful advantage – they taught me to embrace different languages. I was brought up to speak Xhosa and Afrikaans, and some Zulu as well. Over the years, this skill has proven very valuable as I worked to get where I am today,’ says Thembile.

After he left school, Thembile made his way to the fruit-growing areas surrounding Worcester to work in the orchards and vineyards there. It was only in 2000 that he ended up in the Riebeek valley when he came to visit some family over the December holidays and learned of a job opportunity at Riebeek Cellars over the harvest season.

“(Previous CEO) Mr Zakkie Bester had just been appointed and he gave me my first job at Riebeek Cellar as harvest hand in January 2001. The cellar environment was so interesting that I tried my best to learn all that I could. Mr Bester recognised my efforts and gave me the opportunity to grow in the company. By September 2001 I was appointed permanently, and in 2002 I was chosen as Team Leader, which was a big honour.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Thembile then went on to take advantage of all the education opportunities the cellar made available to him, which included a series of short courses for senior cellar personnel conducted at Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute. He excelled at these courses to the point where he was named Senior Cellar Assistant in 2007 and chosen to take part in an exchange programme to visit Bordeaux in France in 2009, where he represented Riebeek Cellars with pride.

“The trip to Bordeaux was the experience of a lifetime. Yes, it was nice to see a different place, but to me it was more about learning from our oversees contemporaries. The French approach winemaking in a completely different way than we do, and it was amazing to see it in practice when we visited their wineries,” says Thembile.

Alecia Boshoff, Production Manager and Winemaker at Riebeek Cellars, works closely with Thembile on a daily basis and says that he is an invaluable member of her team. “Thembile is an immensely hardworking and dedicated person. Over the years he has shown himself to be a huge asset to our company by putting his mind to growing and developing from a general cellar worker to assistant winemaker. He is a wonderful example of someone who is driven and motivated by innate perseverance. We are very proud to call him a member of our team,” says Alecia.

Thembile’s continued drive to succeed is evident from the fact that he has taken every opportunity that came his way to further his career in the intervening years since he came to Riebeek Cellars. This included everything from forklift training to HACCP, safety rep and fire competency. Even after he was named Assistant Winemaker in 2016, he has continued to throw himself into his studies by attending workshops on team leading, emotional intelligence, harvest procedures and more.

“I am currently busy with the course work of the National Winemaking Certificate from Wine Training, and my personal goal is to become a fully-fledged winemaker within the next five years. The first wine I want to make is a Chenin Blanc – I love the fresh fruitiness of the varietal and would love to contribute the skills I have acquired to the making of the fine Chenin Blanc vintages at Riebeek Cellars.”

Thembile encourages other youngsters and jobseekers to take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them. “You have to start small. It’s not the big leagues from day one. You may have to start as a harvest hand, but that gives you the opportunity to learn the business from the inside out, which is important – when you’re from the outside looking in, you miss a lot of things. To grow in this business, you have to show genuine interest in how things fit together in the winemaking process; you should be present in each moment and handle the tools and environment entrusted to you with care and respect. Start by taking care of those pumps and pipes as though it were your own and the rest will take care of itself,” says Thembile.

It is the drive and determination of individuals like Thembile that inspires the Riebeek Cellars team to create a working environment where employees are encouraged to develop their skills, in a manner that is environmentally and socially responsible and sustainable. We salute you, Thembile. Thank you for your invaluable contribution to our growth as a company thus far. Here’s to many more years of honing our skills side by side.

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3 days ago

Riebeek Cellars Collection

It’s almost time for this year's Wild Olive Acoustic Stage at the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival on 4- 5 May 2019!
We thought we would share a blast from the past from our very first Wild Olive Acoustic Stage!
Get your tickets here before they sell out! riebeekvalleyolivefestival.co.za/tickets-riebeek-olive-festival/
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Comment on Facebook

Thanks! We can't wait 💥🎤🎸🤘😁

You guys are gonna rock it again this year!! Your Wild Olive Acoustic Stage always a hit at the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival!!

Jesse Jordan is one of the great lineups that will be playing at our Wild Olive Acoustic Stage at the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival!
With 4 albums, countless shows & the opening act for Jonny Clegg & Rodriguez, Jesse Jordan Official gives you passion & life in every performance!

Hurry up! Get your tickets here: ow.ly/HymG50md7jj
#RCWildOliveAcousticState
... See MoreSee Less

Jesse Jordan is one of the great lineups that will be playing at our Wild Olive Acoustic Stage at the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival!
With 4 albums, countless shows & the opening act for Jonny Clegg & Rodriguez, Jesse Jordan Official gives you passion & life in every performance!

Hurry up! Get your tickets here: http://ow.ly/HymG50md7jj
#RCWildOliveAcousticState

 

Comment on Facebook

Petra Van Asch Ian Fielding I think we should go

#WIN 2 tickets to our Wild Olive Acoustic stage at the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival! All you need to do is tell us below who you will be rocking with!

Ts & Cs apply: ow.ly/qaYx50pQYIM
Winner announced 26.04.2019
#RCWildOliveAcousticStage
... See MoreSee Less

 

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Ryno Geldenhuys Clinton Krause Anica Meyer Rudene De Jongh Riebeek Cellars Collection Riebeek Valley Olive Festival

Beulah Roberts Cheryl-Lynn Roberts Elaine Jacobus Janine Johannes Melissa Jason Aljo Julius

Paula Sacha Wright Nicci van der Sluijs lourens van Der Sluijs Alan Cameron Wright

Dorita Goncalves Alberto Camara

Willem Wimmas Laubscher 😁🕺🏼🤸🏼‍♀️

Kobus Kok Cameron Windvogel

Lourens van der Sluijs share share share!

Carmin Dreyer

Eloise Fisher Kluyts Letitia de Villiers

Nicholas Zakarian, Tania Bennett, Bradley Bennett, Shana Flink, Lorraine Schilder

Audrey Jason Helga Johannes Linda Swarts Gwen Koopman Monica Oncker charne Charney Johannes Reeva Johannes Rhonwen Johannes Zelda Oncker

Dina Virissimo and Alberto Camara

Lourens van der Sluijs Entering all the competitions! Seriously can't wait! 😍

Ian Faul yeah!

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Francois van Coke is our legendary South African rocker!

With numerous #1’s hits like “Toe Vind Ek Jou” & sold out shows, you don’t want to miss him at our Wild Olive Acoustic Stage at the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival

BUY TICKETS NOW: ow.ly/HymG50md7jj
#RCWildOliveAcousticStage
... See MoreSee Less

Francois van Coke is our legendary South African rocker!
 
With numerous #1’s hits like “Toe Vind Ek Jou” & sold out shows, you don’t want to miss him at our Wild Olive Acoustic Stage at the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival

BUY TICKETS NOW: http://ow.ly/HymG50md7jj
#RCWildOliveAcousticStage

 

Comment on Facebook

Whooo whoooo! 🤩

Yay! Can't wait! Lourens van der Sluijs

lets go ..... Dee Lou en Cara van Zyl

#WIN 2 tickets to the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival!
Just post a GIF below of how you’re going to rock our Wild Olive Acoustic Stage!

Ts & Cs apply: ow.ly/FBEN50p6yuw
Winner announced 26.04.2019
#RCWildOliveAcousticStage
... See MoreSee Less

 

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Ashleigh Bianca Nolan Jason Ward Delohn Nolan Loren Adrian Kay-lin ThomasKay-lin ThomasKay-lin Thomas Craig Jason Albertus

As ek dit nie wen nie 😢ek verjaar 26 April. Ag toe. Dis my 40ste en sal omtrent JIVE dan.

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