With a formidable arsenal of qualifications and awards under her belt, and a masterful talent for crafting wines of an exquisite calibre, Izele van Blerk is helping to shatter the glass ceiling for South African women in wine. Even more so for women in wine judging.
A winemaker at KWV, one of South Africa’s longest-established wine and spirits producers, Izele’s domain encompasses the ultra-premium wines of ‘The Mentors Range’. Here, she strives to maintain the stratospheric standards these multi-regional wines have become synonymous with and push towards even loftier heights of quality and consumer experience.
Everything happens for a reason
Izele’s journey into the world of wine began, some might say, with a tennis injury that forced her out of professional competition and the one-year U.S. scholarship she’d been on. Upon her return to South Africa, she decided to pursue a career in wine, which began with a BSc in Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch.
After that, she got her hands dirty in Italy with a season at the Falesco Winery, followed by a smashing performance on Michael Fridjhon’s Wine Tasting Academy exam (a distinction), revealing a finely-tuned palate that would, unsurprisingly, guide her towards immense career success. (Michael Fridjhon is one of South Africa’s most highly regarded international wine judges and wine writers.)
Today, Izele van Blerk is the award-winning alchemist behind a great repertoire of wines produced at KWV, not least of all the afore-mentioned masterpieces comprising The Mentors Range. But she also serves as a wine judge at the annual Veritas Wine Awards — affectionately known as the “Oscars of South African wine” — and the National Young Wine Show.
For anyone in wine, Izele van Blerk is a living, breathing inspiration, particularly for women trying to make headway in a traditaionally male-dominated industry. So, for grabbing the wine industry by the ballings and her truly visionary wine, we say “thank you” and tchin-tchin!