Where women in the workplace are concerned, the glass ceiling over the global wine industry is still very much intact. Yet, and especially in the last decade, some cracks have occurred. Formidable women from various backgrounds have made, and are making, their marks in this valley.
Monica Lukas, for instance, started working at Stellar Organic Winery in 2009 to clean the cellar, offices and bathrooms. Soon she was asked to help at the labelling line. Her steady hand, attention to detail and perseverance saw her taking on the role of one of the chief export clerks, with the added responsibility of being in charge of the unlabelled bottle stock.
Stellar Organic Winery is situated at Kys Halte, just outside Vredendal. Stellar Winery is proficient at identifying individuals whom can make a positive contribution at Stellar. Development projects designed to improve the quality of workers’ lives and benefit surrounding communities are managed by the non-profit Stellar Foundation.
For a talented and driven person such as Monica, Stellar Winery held much potential, especially given the approach of Willem Rossouw, Stellar’s managing director, of developing employees to take on opportunities within the company. “My nerves were shot at the end of the 2010 financial year when the auditor came to control the stock with me, because I was so afraid that there would be a mistake. Luckily everything was in order, so this turned out to be a wonderful experience for me”, she recalls.
By July 2010, Stellar had sent her for training in wine exports. Later that year she also received training in the presentation of wine to the Wine and Spirits Board. By the next year, she was working in exports.
“At the beginning, this was very difficult, but I also enjoyed the challenge of learning something new every day. I wrote out the orders, and also kept a sheet updated about which wines have to be bottled for orders,” Monica recalls.
“We believe that it is important to fill positions from inside Stellar Winery, rather than continuously appointing people from outside. This offers our staff growth opportunities. We want to create opportunities for the staff to improve their lives. Monica started here as a worker in the labelling section, and gradually worked herself up to where she is now,” says Willem Rossouw, managing director of Stellar Winery.
“Monica is also a board member and director of the Stellar Winery board of directors and a trustee of the Stellar Empowerment Trust. This means that she is entrusted with a lot of responsibility when it comes to running the business, and has to have the best interests of her colleagues at heart,” Willem concludes.
In 2012 Monica was chosen by her fellow employees as an additional member of the Stellar Empowerment Trust (SET) to be a representative in director’s meetings. True to her history of growing and transcending, she soon became a director of SET. Here she still aims to represent employees to the best of her ability while making decisions with their interest close to her heart. She is also a secretary to both the board of directors and Stellar Empowerment Trust.
Monica is an example of hard work and devotion, and continues to inspire those around her at Stellar Organic Winery.
“It really is a privilege to work at Stellar.”
Stellar Winery is South Africa’s largest producer of fine, organic, fair trade wines. All their wines are organic, and vegan friendly. They also produce no-added-sulphur wines, and are the largest global producers in this niche category.