Women in Wine: The two ladies dominating at Accolade Wines

Top image: Chandre Petersen and Alison Pearce

South African wine is a competitive category in a demanding industry, requiring industry leaders to perform at their peak, balancing the demands of business, strategy execution and marketing with a product that depends heavily on Mother Nature. To achieve success in this environment demands skill, fortitude and plenty of resilience.

As we move into National Women’s Month we are celebrating two of Accolade Wines’ leading women in Global Brand Ambassador and Sales & Marketing Lead for Southern Africa, Alison Pearce and newly appointed Accolade Winemaker, Chandre Petersen who reflect the strength and excellence inherent in the Accolade brand.

Alison Pearce

From her early profession as a graphic designer to her current title, Alison’s rise to the top has been underpinned by passion, confidence and a tireless work ethic. Her belief in what she does and the people she elects to work with have created a successful environment where everyone involved is allowed to flourish. Part of Alison’s skill is her deft ability to empower everyone in the room to perform at their best, be it creatively or analytically. She is in that sense a conductor and her orchestra at Accolade Wines is shining bright.

“We do wine and we do it well. Our focus is not limited to the creation and crafting of opulent wines but also to the design, functionality and aesthetic appeal of our brand.”

This perceptive intelligence extends to Alison’s belief in empowering women as the best person for the job, together with an appreciation for the strength that unity develops and the confidence that support brings.

As part of a global sales and brand team that work in numerous markets with extremely different challenges, Alison’s confidence and compassion are notable attributes of her leadership and instrumental in her management of multiple moving parts across in-house teams and suppliers to achieve effective solutions.

Being able to utilise strength is only constructive when one has the intelligence to know when and how to employ it and Alison manages her position with graceful professionalism that is the toast of her associates.

Chandre Peterson

Chandre Petersen’s thirst for wine knowledge saw her pivot from a commerce degree to study viticulture and winemaking at Elsenburg and pursue a career in winemaking.

On graduating from Elsenburg in 2011, Chandre was accepted into the Cape Winemaker’s Guild Protégé programme. This three-year course offers top talent mentorship from some of the Cape’s foremost winemakers. A four-month stint with Californian Pinot Noir specialists, Calera Wine Company, followed and shortly after her return to South Africa Chandre was appointed as Assistant Winemaker at Spier.

A year later and the role of Assistant White Winemaker at Nederberg came knocking and with it the tutelage of cellar-master Andrea Freeborough who impressed Chandre in her capacity as a winemaker and a woman, informed with a deep understanding of wine with a dynamism that welcomed new points of view.

“She’s an amazing role model as a winemaker and as a woman.”

More recently, Chandre has been appointed as Accolade Wines’ winemaker. Accolade is home to premium award-winning brand Flagstone and South Africa’s largest nine-litre volume export wine, Kumala.

“The past eight years in the wine industry has fine-tuned my meticulous attention to detail and transformed me into the most passionate and driven winemaker I am today. Being appointed as winemaker of Accolade Wines will allow me to carry on building and elevating the brand.”

The appointment comes in a demanding climate for winemakers following several years of challenging climate. For Chandre, this is embraced as an opportunity for a results-driven winemaker to employ her knowledge, passion and enthusiasm to produce world-class wine.

“I carry the responsibility to make the best wine possible from nature’s abundance.”

In a fast-paced world where wine drinkers and are increasingly adventurous, Chandre knows it is important to understand the market and trends but to trust your vision. Finding a successful balance in winemaking is part of what keeps Chandre stimulated and excited.