Sensory and Science for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy

Marianne McKay - 05 Apr 2016

As part of our ongoing, and mutually rewarding relationship, the Department of Oenology and Viticulture (DVO) again hosted 25 Pinotage Youth Development Academy (PYDA) students during 2015 for three more modules in wine science, with a strong emphasis on Sensory Evaluation.

The Pinotage Youth Development Academy, based in the Cape Winelands, develops the capacity of young, disadvantaged South Africans to prepare them for employment within the wine industry and related sectors, such as hospitality and tourism. The Academy is located in Stellenbosch and hosts students from the Stellenbosch and Paarl regions. It offers an integrated programme covering strong vocational skills, as well as the personal growth essential for success. The mission of the PYDA is to deliver practical employable skills, together with a mind-set and attitude to allow young people to seize or create economic opportunities.

During February of 2015, (in preparation for harvest and their winemaking practical), Valeria Panzeri of the Institute for Grape and Wine Sciences (IGWS) and Jeanne Brand of the DVO introduced the PYDA students to sensory analysis of major components in wine at various concentrations. A number of the PYDA students joined the professional training programme in the DVO Sensory Facility. This is year-long training programme gives each candidate an unparalleled exposure to the world of aroma and wine tasting skills, and is coordinated by Valeria Panzeri. It is a rigorous programme that ensures that they will be able to sit on research tasting panels, and will be very well-equipped to handle trade tastings. We are also involved in a research project looking at the success of our aroma training, which is funded by the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University.

An important part of the Oenology course was to give students a better understanding of the concepts like concentration and dilution, and what various units commonly used in winemaking mean in practical terms. Not all the students were overjoyed when they realised that there would be quite a lot of maths involved, but by the end, they were far more comfortable with their g/l and ppms! A follow up course in wine analyses, and the principles behind the various analytical methods was also a challenging prospect, but this had a very practical focus too. Another aspect of the course was for the students to assess wines for visible and aroma faults, and try to find a solution through filtration and clarification methods in the practical classes with Marisa Nell. Wines were assessed before and after, and the best clarification results rewarded. Students also extracts of different types of oak (French and American), and then assessed the effects of using different products (wood powder, chips, blocks and staves) in different concentrations of alcohol. These extracts were then sensorially analysed for quality. Students also visited our Experimental Cellar, and enjoyed a weekends’ winemaking with Ms Nell. An important relationship that we enjoy as part of the PYDA initiative, is working with Ms Nomonde Kubheka, a DVO winemaking graduate and experienced winemaker.

We wish the PYDA every success in its mission to train young people for the wine industry- based on our experience, they are already making a difference out there!


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