Meet the Wine Cellar Team
Meet the team
James, who manages our SA wine portfolio, was enticed into the world of wine while studying law at the University of Stellenbosch. An encounter with some Château Lynch-Bages 1982 led to an epiphany and a life-long journey in wine ensued. His 25 years of experience in the SA wine industry includes retail, wine buying and working as Head Sommelier for a leading restaurant group. As a professional wine taster, he also has experience with Platter’s Wine Guide (since 2007), Winemag.co.za, Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show, Amorim Cap Classique Challenge and was a board member of SASA. Few pundits taste more wines than him.
What’s James drinking this month?
Head of Sales and Imports
Jolette is a career wine geek and deeply passionate about diversity and sustainability. Before heading up sales and buying our imports in 2021, she managed the Fine Wine Sales and Privé imports portfolio here at Wine Cellar. She studied BSc and MSc in Oenology and Viticulture in SA and Europe, produced wine across four continents with 15 harvests under her belt, judges on local and international panels and can sell you a wine in at least 4 languages. In her spare time, Jolette makes wine under her own label, The Vineyard Party, with the maiden vintage of two small-batch Sémillons released in June 2021.
What’s Jolette drinking this month?
Brokerage and Investments
Johan holds a MCom in International Trade from North West University’s School of Economics. After finishing high school, Johan spent a year on a wine farm where he had hands-on experience in the harvesting, farming, cellaring and sales of wine. He was also able to travel to many wine farms and it was during this time that his passion for wine began. He has experience in international fruit trade, while trading in fine SA wine was a hobby for him. In 2018, Johan joined Wine Cellar to manage and grow Wine Cellar’s investment and brokerage business. He is invaluable to the Wine Cellar team, and his colleagues can always rely on him for a good joke.
What’s Johan drinking this month?
Office Manager and Wine Sales
Aimée’s passion for wine first began while she was living in London and attending wine tastings at her local wine shop. It was one tasting in particular, with Keermont’s Alex Starey and Pieter Walser from BLANKBottle, that she fell in love with SA wine. After moving back to SA she completed a harvest at Reyneke and gained experience in various wine-related jobs. Aimée has her WSET Level 3 qualification and is hoping to do her WSET Level 4 Diploma soon. She is the friendly face that greets you as you enter the Wine Cellar office and is always ready to help with any query.
What’s Aimée drinking this month?
Wine Sales and Events
With a passion for sport, Kenny graduated with an Honours degree in Sport Management, specialising in Event Management. Kenny has always loved exploring the Cape winelands, tasting an array of wines and finding hidden wine gems. He received a once in a lifetime opportunity to complete a harvest at Cave Yves Cuilleron where his knowledge and love of wine exploded, particularly his appreciation for Rhône cultivars. Kenny was one of the successful interns in our Skills Challenge program and is now a member of our sales team and manages our wine tasting events. When he doesn’t have his head in wine, Kenny can be found mountain biking, camping and enjoying all that the outdoors has to offer.
What’s Kenny drinking this month?
Procurement and Wine Sales
Lauren found her way into the world of wine after completing a triple major at UCT in Environmental & Geographical Sciences, Film and Sociological Sciences. It was while working at a restaurant on a local wine farm that she fell in love with the process of winemaking. She traveled to the States and worked as an assistant sommelier while continuing to self-study through the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Windows on the World and Guild of Sommelier books. A standout wine moment for Lauren was the day she had a Krug tasting. After that, wine was the only thing on her mind. Lauren joined the Wine Cellar team through our Skills Challenge Internship program, and today her role focuses on SA wine procurement and sales.
What’s Lauren drinking this month?
Janine's interest in wine took root while she was obtaining her BA in drama and psychology at the University of Stellenbosch. She spent 10 years at one of SA's most reputable estates, eventually managing all of the farm's exports to global agents. This afforded her the opportunity to travel and sparked her interest in international wines. Janine has been with Wine Cellar since 2008 and specialises in import logistics. As well as living for wine and food, she is particularly interested in people, art, architecture and nature – from the Cape Winelands to the Karoo and everything in between.
What’s Janine drinking this month?
With a Bachelor of Commerce degree, specialising in Finance, Belinda has more than 15 years of experience in the finance industry to her name. After working in the fashion industry for many years, she has gained invaluable knowledge of imports and customer account management. In addition to finance, she is also looking to further her knowledge by obtaining a teaching degree. When not working, Belinda enjoys spending time with family and friends and exploring different wine farms in the Western Cape. For any account related queries, please feel free to contact Belinda.
What’s Belinda drinking this month?
During her studies to become a chef, Paige completed several courses with the Cape Wine Academy and was captivated by the world of wine. Deciding to pursue a career in the fine wine industry, she joined Wine Cellar’s digital marketing team after completing her marketing degree. Paige product manages Wine Cellar’s online store, runs all digital campaigns and overseas content creation and social media. Feel free to contact her for any marketing or website related queries.
What’s Paige drinking this month?
Kim studied a Bachelor of Business Science degree in Marketing at UCT and it was during this time that her interest in wine grew. She joined the UCT Wine Society in her first year and was exposed to many local wines. She is now a part of the marketing team at Wine Cellar and has furthered her wine knowledge by obtaining the WSET Level 2 qualification. Kim takes care of Wine Cellar’s social media and website and will gladly assist with any related queries.
What’s Kim drinking this month?
Claudia is our resident web designer and UX wizard. She has obtained higher certificates in print, interactive media and web publishing from the accredited Friends of Design Academy of Digital Arts. She has built up an outstanding portfolio through her freelance work and has been lucky enough to work in a multitude of industries. Working at Wine Cellar has unleashed her passion for wine. She’s known to enjoy a local red and is now actively tasting and working on improving her palate.
What’s Claudia drinking this month?
Stefan van der Merwe
Stefan found his love for the wine industry while studying agriculture. After furthering his studies in winemaking, he ventured into wine exports and logistics. Stefan has acquired more than 10 years of invaluable experience in the SA wine industry. At Wine Cellar, he oversees the cellaring operations and ensures that the strict storage conditions are always met. For any enquiries relating to storage accounts and private cellaring, contact Stefan and he will gladly assist.
What’s Stefan drinking this month?
After working in tourism for many years, the challenge of a new industry brought Robyn to Wine Cellar. Since joining in 2015, Robyn has been in charge of Wine Cellar’s outbound logistics, including the delivery of all online orders and transporting any withdrawals from the private cellaring facilities. If you need any assistance regarding local shipping, express delivery or order tracking, Robyn will gladly handle any of your queries.
What’s Robyn drinking this month?
Having been with Wine Cellar since 2009, Charles has become an integral part of the business and knows the facility like the back of his hand. He is the first point of call for any query relating to both storage and Wine Cellar stock. In addition to being the primary packer and stock checker, Charles also handles storage accounts on Wine Cellar’s specialised warehousing software. Charles is an avid Man. United supporter, and when he’s not working he’s sure to be watching the game and cheering on his team.
What’s Charles drinking this month?
Abner, Wine Cellar’s energetic and passionate stock controller, is a key member of the company’s dispatch team. He heads the team responsible for packing orders and preparing them for delivery. Passionate about the wine industry and working with Wine Cellar’s extensive stock, Abner’s enthusiasm spreads throughout his team as he rallies to get things done. Over the weekends, you might spot Abner at one of Cape Town’s markets selling his art which often features upcycled corks and other byproducts of the wine trade.
What’s Abner drinking this month?
Studying economics at the University of Stellenbosch, Roland was surrounded by wine and as soon as he had finished his degree, he found his way into the wine industry. After working in marketing, retail, exports and as a sommelier, Roland joined Wine Cellar and has been the Director since 2005. Local and international study as well as regular travel have added to his extensive insight into the wine world. You will find Roland at most of SA’s top wine events, judging and forever expanding his palate. When he isn’t popping corks, Roland enjoys cooking, writing about wine and running on the beautiful Cape mountain trails.