For Tinus Els, from South Africa, studying winemaking and viticulture was never the plan. He had always been interested in agriculture, but it wasn’t until he met a friend that was interested in wine until he realized his passion for the industry.
“I had never drank wine before I studied it,” said Tinus. “My wine experience has brought me to different places around the world including France, Chile, and Argentina. I love to travel so much and in this industry, I can.
After studying in France, Tinus was able to partner with a French company called Vivelys, which specializes in the design, development, and application of leading-edge winemaking technologies that address leading challenges winemakers face. Wanting to open an office in South Africa, Vivelys contacted Tinus about running the South Africa office but wanted him to gain additional experience in the USA first.
“Going through CAEP was great,” said Tinus. “They helped with all the paperwork and made things run very smoothly. When I arrived, there was a seminar to learn how things work and to talk about the experience. CAEP was there to support me, which is a relief because America is big!”
Tinus’ program was a bit different than traditional CAEP Enology programs. He travelled between 20 different wineries, all throughout California, to consult with them about their wine instruments and technology that they could be using in their winemaking process.
“It was great to be able to see different wineries. There are different techniques available to help with the winemaking. We have knowledge about when to fermentation, automatic aging with wood chips, when to stop, other techniques.”
While Tinus had been to the USA before his program, he has found that the lifestyles in California are different than back home.
“It seems like there in America, there is nothing negative, or nothing small. Everything is bigger and larger in America. People in a bar will talk to you here! There are people from all over the world that live in America and they like to know about you.”
After harvest, Tinus joined other CAEP participants for CAEP Fest West, a weekend of music, activities, CAEP participants, and camping!
“I wanted to see Lori (CAEP Enology Coordinator) again. After this whole experience, it was nice to relax and have fun. I was able to meet different trainees, too. In the beginning, everyone was nervous and new. After harvest, people are more relaxed and comfortable.”
“If you are thinking about coming to the USA for a wine harvest, go through CAEP. You don’t have to worry about paperwork and they are there to help. There are so many things that can go wrong on your own. It is worthwhile to come in through CAEP.”