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Press Release

Andiswa Mapheleba – Pongrácz’s protégée winemaker

“Umzingisi akanashwa” (the one who perseveres has no misfortune) is a motto lived by the protégée winemaker for the internationally award-winning range of Pongrácz Méthode Cap Classiques. And her career to date is testament to a rich and rewarding future as a winemaker.

Born in the Transkei, Andiswa (29) grew up in East London and it was during her final Grade 12 year when she attended a conference hosted by Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), that her interest in winemaking was piqued.

“I was immediately 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’. Since then, I’ve never looked back! It was a defining moment in my life and one that I am so grateful for.”

She completed her BSc Agriculture: Viticulture and Oenology degree at Stellenbosch University followed by a master’s degree in Wine Biotechnology, specialising in wine sensory and consumer research.

Her first position was an internship at Stellenzicht Vineyards where she conducted various winemaking and viticultural practices and experiments for her fourth academic year of Viticulture and Oenology. She then joined Nederburg Wines as assistant in barrel maturation and production at the end of 2018, before joining the Pongrácz team.

Now as the protégée winemaker of the range of wines made in the French tradition of secondary bottle fermentation, Andiswa says she is humbled to follow in the footsteps of past winemaker Elunda Basson.

“Prior to this, I had not been exposed to MCC wine production. I learnt so much in the time spent working with Elunda before she moved to another position. She taught me the fundamentals for MCC production, and her skills and knowledge are immaculate. In my day-to-day winemaking procedures, I constantly aim for quality by working with precision and passion – the ideals that I learnt from her.”

“I was raised by my mother who was an advocate for education and hard work, which is what I live by daily. I am ambitious, and strive for excellence and innovation in winemaking. Getting involved in ways to bridge the gap between the wine producer and the consumer is what I aim for. I would like to lead a beautiful merger of chemistry, creativity and the senses to bring more people closer to the wonderful world of wine.”

Andiswa strives for simplicity and elegance, a virtue that perfectly mirrors the elegant range of MCC’s she is now responsible for.

“MCC is multi-faceted but understated. It’s elegant and has just the right amount of richness that leaves you intrigued. Depending on the style, it consistently has the perfect balance between fruit and crispness. The mousse makes it even more memorable, without having to scream for so much attention.”

Andiswa attended the Viteff Sparkling Wine Symposium mid-October 2019 in Champagne, France, the international forum where discussions on the latest trends and technology are discussed amongst the most globally renowned producers of champagne and sparkling wine.

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