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Press Release

Pongracz Protegee winemaker shared knowledge at Inter Hotel Challenge

Pongracz is a participant in the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge which focuses on the role of mentorship, the youth and their bright future in the hospitality world. During “Grape to Glass” Pongracz Protegee winemaker Andiswa Maphelaba had the opportunity to share her knowledge on making Pongracz wines with aspiring wine stewards and chefs. Usually during this mentorship programme participants visit the winery, but this year a virtual event took place which we can share with you. Find more information here.

About the Inter Hotel Challenge

“It is an honour for Distell and Zonnebloem to back the Inter Hotel Challenge for the eighth year running, demonstrating our commitment as a company to skills development and transfer. We believe that this is essential to the successful progression of the hospitality and tourism industry in South Africa, honing the incredible talent and ability of our country’s young chefs, sommeliers and wine stewards,” says Richard Rushton, the Distell Group’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

“We in the industry are at the forefront of shaping perceptions and building the hospitality trade beyond its current strengths. This is what makes the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge such an exciting and progressive platform. It encourages the pooling of talent, skill and resources to create greater impact.”

“This is exactly what the South African hospitality industry needs right now,” commented Ashleigh Christie, Regional HR Director – Africa Minor Hotels. “There is so much undiscovered talent out there, all waiting for the chance to shine! We actively want to be a part of the process that finds and grows our new talent for tomorrow’s hospitality industry. Those of us in the industry should all strive to play a role.”

One of the important outcomes of the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge is the camaraderie, the coming together of the hotel industry in South Africa. Individuals and teams who normally see each other as competition, here they join forces, collaborating and generously sharing their knowledge, skills and foresight.

One of the aims of the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge is to promote talented young people over time taking them up the ladder of progression to becoming fully fledged wine stewards and one day hopefully to achieve the greater aim of becoming a junior sommelier in the world of wine and spirits. It is heartwarming to hear and read about the hopes and aspirations as they introduce themselves.

It is vitally important that the talent that has been so carefully nurtured has the opportunity to grow and shine. All the mentors that have inspired and urged them on are behind them every step of the way. This is a truly collaborative effort together with our hotels, to make this happen is a vote of confidence in the future of our young stars who will be taking our industry forward and upward.

BOLD INTERVIEW with Sir Abner: Male Styling Secrets

What a privilege it was for Pongrácz to chat to prominent South African designer Sir Abner to discover his bold, male styling tips. Read our mini-interview below and be sure to share this post with fellow fashion aficionados.

Pongrácz: What do you think is a universal or timeless styling tip for the gents?

Sir Abner: Know your “go-to” essentials to match up any key pieces to own any look you pull out of your closet.

  • A good quality pair of jeans that you can dress up or down
  • A hybrid pair of sneakers for an edgy, updated look in a suit – or paired with shorts and a formal shirt
  • A good pair of derby formal shoes for all seasons, in black and brown
  • A watch fit for the occasion you’re attending or celebrating and matched to the shoes you’re wearing

Pongrácz: When it comes to male fashion, what are the different elements that help create a really bold look?

Sir Abner: Different hats always add character and personality to any outfit, any time of the day and for any occasion.

Pongrácz: Do you have any bold style tips for daytime vs evening time wear?

Sir Abner: Always make the clothes express the wearer’s identity and remember style is fluid so have fun with it. The “trend” should be to copy you and not the other way around!

Pongrácz participates in Distell Inter Hotel Challenge

Pongrácz is pleased and excited to announce its participation in the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge, a competition “to create and sustain a strong national base of top-quality chefs, bakers, wine stewards and concierges.” The winning wine steward of this year’s competition will win a trip to the epicentres of whiskey- and winemaking: Scotland and France. They will also be given the opportunity to work beside a leading sommelier team in London.

The group of wine stewards joined our protégée winemaker, Andiswa Mapheleba for the competitions’ Grape to Glass virtual information sessions earlier in May. She shared her passion and love for winemaking.

Born in the Transkei, Andiswa grew up in East London.  “I was raised by my mother who was an advocate for education and hard work, which is what I live by daily.  I was drawn to winemaking because of my love for science and art, and the fact that I wanted to do something that was completely out of the ‘norm’. Andiswa aims for softness, elegance and finesse when making Pongrácz.

For more about the Distell Inter Hotel competition visit www.showcook.com.

Compete in the the ultimate cook-off experience

To celebrate the month of love, we’ve teamed up with Masterchef SA Contestant and celebrity chef @ClaireAllenSA to give you the chance to WIN a spot for you and a partner to compete in the ultimate cook-off experience!

Ten couples will be selected to take part and the winning couple will be awarded a one night’s stay at the Protea Hotel Victoria Junction PLUS dinner for two at Pigalle. To enter, simply purchase a bottle of Pongrácz from any one of the venues below and fill out the entry card. Ts and Cs apply.


  • Sotano on Bree
  • Sotano Mouille Point
  • La Bruixa/La Bohemme
  • Lou Lous
  • The 41
  • Strolla
  • Bacinis
  • Da Vinci’s
  • Si Cantina Sociale
  • 14 Stories Restaurant

The Bold, Creative Voice of Sir Abner

Viewing himself as the creative synthesizer who weaves ideas, design, fashion, aesthetics and street culture into a single vision, Seboni Abner Makgamatha better known as “Sir Abner” is crafting a bold future in the South African Fashion Industry.

Sir Abner (30), from Marshalltown in Johannesburg, is the Artistic Director, textile print and graphic designer for David Tlale Couture and the creator and founder of content driven platform “Kimon Sam” alongside his life partner and photographer Katlego Idah Mamabolo. He also recently registered a new creative agency, Application Form Trait-Marked, which aims to push “applied art” traits into new concepts.

He daily conveys stories, emotions and aesthetics through his designs and says his love for fashion certainly comes from his family of elaborate characters. From exceptional seamstresses such as his mother and aunt, to his father’s love for 70’s Italian and Black American fashion, jazz music and African literature, his late grandfather’s tribal traditions that commanded a particular etiquette, and especially his grandmother.

“My grandmother is my creative muse! She is rooted in her tradition and her accessories all have meaning relating to her Nguni culture. From the bangles she wears to her uniform fashion sense tells a story. And that’s when I realised, I needed a form that could give universal meaning to all these loaded messages. For me, textile prints are the medium. They allow us to communicate with each other through design. I see myself as being part of the evolution between the older generation who want to preserve and a new generation who has respect for tradition but want to make it more relevant and use it differently in order to preserve it.”

He says that through the power of “collective collaboration” his career has evolved and it’s the most recent project together with Pongrácz designing the Bold Print of the Year to be unveiled early 2020, that Sir Abner is set to showcase the future of design in South Africa.

“My entire career to date is paved by collaboration. Whether it’s joining forces with other creatives or my many diverse positions in the industry, I keep on pushing the boundaries at each turn. The Bold Print of the Year campaign is incredibly exciting – I’ll be designing three prints which I think represent our South African creative, fashion and consumer spirit as well as Pongrácz’s Be Bold philosophy.”

Based on a voting and judging process, the final print will be revealed and I simply can’t wait to see how other creatives will be applying the print to various designs!”
Sir Abner studied graphic design and multi-media and soon branched his interest out into fashion and textile design. “I enjoy working with people who do the exact opposite from what I do. It’s there where I learn and where our ideas as creatives can stand out.”

He started his career in retail as a visual merchandiser and freelance graphic designer. Always interested in fashion he explored a world where visual art meets fashion and how this creativity extends to graphic design, typography, interior and textile design, and even fashion and style. He approached David Tlale with a proposal to revolutionise South African fashion and in that bold move, found his first real break.

“In my role as a creative you need to be able to detect key trends from all the different facets of society – be it music, technology, popular culture, art or the complex fashion of simple human behaviour – and turn them into visual expressions. For me sustainability in fashion is not limited to how something impacts the environment but rather how it impacts society.”

To follow the creative musings of Sir Abner whilst he designs the Pongrácz Bold Print of the Year, and to select your favourite visithttps://pongracz.co.za/sir-abner/



In this print, the juxtaposition of African culture meets modern design in typography. Inspired by showcasing the craftmanship that goes into making Pongrácz, this design captures the journey of creating, rather than the end product.

One of the things that intrigued Sir Abner was the idea of infinite possibilities and all of the work and thought, trial and error and organic processes that happen while trying to get to any required simplicity. While a circle is ‘perfect’, for Sir Abner, it’s what happens around that circle to make it perfect that is interesting and is full of endless manifestations. In the Djembe print, the repeated outline around the font creates an infinite pattern which in turn creates a design filled with intricate possibilities.

Sir Abner likens this idea of infinite possibilities to the African Djembe drum which comes in many different forms and is used for various ceremonies and celebrations in African culture. The sound of the drum is the same every time but it’s the energy and way in which it is played that is mesmerising. And while the object itself is simple, there are boundless possibilities of what can be created.

Just like a stone thrown into a river causes an endless ripple effect with infinite possibilities, so too do the seven years of secondary fermentation inside the bottle. These years of fermentation are what form the delicate bubbles of Pongrácz, creating a spellbinding synergy of creativity, craft and elegance.


Inspired by the man Desiderius Pongrácz who smuggled vines into South Africa whilst fleeing uprisings in Hungary, this design evokes the influence of a movement of artistic, renaissance men who had an interest in craft, literature, music and changing the status quo. Through their visionary ideas they challenged, encouraged and dared to be different.

Desiderius Pongrácz, a nobleman, revolutionised viticulture in the Cape. He was amongst others, instrumental in introducing the classic Champagne varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to the Cape Winelands and today the range pays tribute to his bold tenacity, innovation and unwavering spirit.

Inspired by mail art, also known as postal art and correspondence art which is a populist artistic movement centered around sending small scale works through the postal service, Sir Abner created a code through design – EOIC 3ULD – which when folded upwards translates to BOLD, reflecting the pioneering spirit of Desiderius Pongrácz.

Sir Abner transformed the military camouflage print which symbolises comradery and bravery, into black and white, and infused the design with the truly South African Shangaan Bag. The plastic-woven bags have become synonymous with migrants coming to Johannesburg filled with zeal, hope, courage and optimism.


Art and design can evoke many wistful and sentimental yearnings for the past. The evolution of design over centuries brings forth innovation, excitement and daring in creating that which at the time would seem impossible.

For Sir Abner, pop art, vintage stamps and lenticular super-hero sippy cups awaken a nostalgic memory of his curiosity as a child. Design from a time gone by brings forth the emotion and sentimentality that encourages a sense of meaning and creativity for future experiences.

In celebrating legendary iconography, Sir Abner incorporates one of the rare photographs of Desiderius Pongrácz. Inspired by the man, fondly known as Pongy, and his triumphant zeal, passion to create and vision that was bigger than him at the time, Sir Abner visually portrays Pongrácz’s iconic legacy – a legacy that to this day has a profound impact on viticulture and winemaking in South Africa.