About Hein Koegelenberg, CEO
Born in Laingsburg in South Africa’s Karoo region in 1960, Hein Koegelenberg was destined for a life blessed by wine when his family bought a wine farm six years later. Situated in Vredendal, Goedgegund Wine farm sparked Koegelenberg’s interest in the fruits of the land and after agricultural school he went on to complete an honours degree in viticulture cellar technology at Elsenberg, a tertiary agricultural college outside Stellenbosch in the heart of the South African Winelands.
Embarking on his career as a winemaker in 1984, hard work and dedication saw him become CEO of Windmeul Cellar of the co-operative winery in Paarl.
In 1998, Koegelenberg was recognised for his extensive knowledge of the industry, management and interpersonal skills, when he was appointed as director of La Motte, a wine farm in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley.
His move into the global wine arena began in 2000 when he came up with the idea to create a mass market wine product by using the excess grapes from the three family estates to create a new label. The result was Leopard’s Leap Wines and the three families are symbolized by the distinctive three golden leopards on its label. These also represent the three Cape leopards of the Cape Leopard Trust, which the brand supports as part of its conservation campaign.
About Eugene van Zyl, winemaker
His intense love affair with viticulture and oenology began in the eighties, long before he obtained his Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch. Shortly after qualifying, van Zyl spent three years researching cutting-edge wine making technology before accepting a position at Elsenberg Wine College as a lecturer in cellar technology and wine making, a position he filled for twelve years.
It was here that he founded EKOV, the first academy dedicated to transforming the industry. This cellar worker training initiative was fully-backed by the old boys association of Elsenburg in 1988.
Eighteen years later, the SETA accredited organisation is still going strong. It was also at Elsenberg that van Zyl launched another initiative that saw his graduates rally together by raising funds for regular trips to Europe. These trips afford disadvantaged students the privilege of accessing sites related to wine-making that members of the public would not be fortunate enough to access.
Needless to say, Eugene van Zyl has helped shape many of South Africa’s top wine makers and for that, our taste-buds are eternally grateful. After a brief stint as a consultant for major producers such as KWV’s WinPro and Simonsvlei, he accepted his current position at Leopard’s Leap Wines.
When he’s not making wines or training cellar workers, you’ll find him exploring the outdoors in hiking boots, scuba diving gear or riding a bicycle. And, if you can’t find him there you’ll find him completing an assignment for his part-time nature conservation course.
According to those in the know, van Zyl has left a message for every Leopard’s Leap Wine drinker. Look-out for it on the label, it reads ‘made by happy people’.