Following your passion can lead to a job that you love going to every day. Just ask Shawn Mathyse, a budding winemaker who has turned his passion into a career.
Shawn (31) works as a junior winemaker at Ken Forrester Wines in Stellenbosch. We spoke to him about his fascinating job, and about how he loves getting up to go to work in the morning.
How did you first get into winemaking?
That’s an interesting story. I was born on a wine farm, but I didn’t ever really consider winemaking as a career. After high school, I actually decided that I wanted to study IT, because I was quite good at it and I knew that there were good job opportunities.
But then I came into contact with an NGO that was looking to develop young black and coloured wine farmers. I started to get a better understanding of winemaking and then I realised that this was meant for me. I really enjoyed it, and I was born on a wine farm after all! From there I studied agriculture and then became a junior winemaker.
What do you do at your job every day?
I am involved in every step of the winemaking process. From growing the grapes, to harvesting them, crushing them and turning them into wine. Then I also get to be involved in the bottling of wines, tasting them and also selling and marketing the wine. I get to interact with a wide variety of people on a daily basis, from clients, to wine industry experts.
Why do you love your job so much?
Well firstly, I do enjoy drinking the odd glass of wine, of course! But it’s also the fact that there is always something new to learn. As you go deeper into winemaking and the ‘wine bug’ bites you, it doesn’t let go. There are so many different aspects to winemaking and I enjoy the challenges and being able to expand my knowledge.
I also love the fact that I am not stuck behind a desk doing the same thing every day. One day I might be hosting prospective clients at the farm to taste the wines, the next day I might be crushing grapes, delivering wines or bottling wines. So there is a lot of variety which makes it easy for me to get out of bed early in the morning and go to work.
Do you believe it is important for people to do something they are passionate about?
Absolutely! If you enjoy what you do, then you will put all your effort into it and you won’t view going to work as some sort of punishment. As people, our jobs take up a huge portion of our lives. So if you aren’t happy at work, then you will be miserable a lot of the time. I encourage every person to find their passion, and channel all your energy into it so that it can flourish and possibly turn into a career.
What is your ultimate career goal?
I hope to progress to a head winemaker, but the ultimate goal is to one day develop my own brand of wine!