Phelisa Moni – From Paarl to Burgundy and Beyond

We are delighted to support the Pinotage Youth Development Academy. The Academy focuses on students aged 18-25 who have graduated from high school, are unemployed or in casual work and come from disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme is designed to develop the life and technical skills of young South Africans to qualify them for employment within the wine industry and related sectors. Here, Phelisa a student who graduated from the academy in year one tells her story. 


I’m Phelisa Moni the PYDA 25 year old graduate from Paarl in South Africa’s Western Cape currently working at Spice Route Wine Estate as a wine host. I come from (and live with) a family of 11 members with no one drinking alcohol! After I passed my matric I couldn’t further my studies because of financial challenges so I had to look for some kind of a job.

I came across the information on PYDA, I applied, went through a difficult selection process and luckily I made it to the final 25 – the first generation of PYDA. Although my mom was worried I told myself there’s no going back. I really want to be part of PYDA even though I had no idea what was going to happen next.

It was not easy. For the whole year I had to face the real world through my work placements and I had to learn out of my socks (PYDAspeak). Working in the cellar was the outstanding environment for me – I fell in love with being one of the people who has contributed to the process of wine making from the natural product (a bunch of grapes) to the final product which brings magic to your glass of wine.

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I got recommended by PYDA for the Burgundy wine exchange through Elsenburg College and I was one of the selected candidates. I felt as if it was a dream. Even when I had my passport in my hands I couldn’t believe it until the day I went to the airport. This was my first time getting into the plane and I was feeling very scared. The plane trip was long hours but amazing.

I spent 6 weeks in Burgundy. I worked in Cote de Nuit at Domain Dubois and what I realised is that French people are very proud of their language. I struggled most of the time to communicate but I would find a way to express what I wanted to say! I had a very good time with the Dubois family and with everyone I met while I was there.

I visited the Eiffel tower just before I came back to South Africa and I felt like a VIP. The trip was the experience of a lifetime but it had an impact on my family and my loved ones as I was totally disconnected from them – especially from my 6 year old daughter. I would think of her each and every hour as I have never been away from her for such a long time.

I learnt so much. I learnt about the traditional way of wine making, I learnt about the history and I loved the fact that during harvest everyone including the owner, the grandmother, the grandfather and the grandchildren are also playing a part to help in the vineyards and also in the winery. I loved being surrounded by people from different countries and learning to adapt to people from other cultures.

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Most of all I have learnt that anything is possible. And my family have learnt that anything is possible.

I see myself going forward and to reaching my goal. I really feel like the doors have been opened and at last I see a bright future ahead. A big thanks to the Pinotage Youth Development Academy.

The talent (me) has been launched of course!!


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