Each August, South Africa celebrates the women of our communities, an extension of our country’s ‘Women’s Day’ on the 9th of August. It is a chance to reflect and gauge our success as a society in transforming our country and correcting power imbalances. The foundation of this celebration is to acknowledge the steps (literal and figurative) taken by women during the Apartheid era to end the regime. On 9 August, 1956, more than 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings to petition against the pass laws of the time.

This incredible act of courage and determination speaks to the character of South Africa’s women through the ages. As pillars of our society, they are leaders, caregivers, philosophers, teachers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, philanthropists, mothers and friends. Throughout the tapestry of our lives, women are present holding us up, taking courageous actions, pushing us to be better, and catching us when we fall. They are the custodians of a community’s culture, and this is too true for culture in business!

At Brookdale Estate, we are led in both our hospitality and winemaking by two phenomenal women – Yvonne Coetzee, our General Manager, and Kiara Scott, our Winemaker. We are fortunate to have the women of Brookdale ushering us towards our company’s goals and vision, while helping us to achieve in our personal careers and aspirations too.

Yvonne, with her endless energy and passion for people, teaches us to see the possibilities instead of the obstacles. Hailing from Durban, the Sunshine Coast, it’s no wonder her sunny disposition keeps us all inspired. Her expectations for the exceptional create goals for us to attain, always with a joke to be made and smile to share. Having managed properties for many years in the tourism industry, she brings a wealth of understanding for guest experiences and strongly believes in an inclusive approach to building her teams.

“At Brookdale Estate, I have found a place to create something new based on my experience, while feeding my passion for personalised and exceptional moments. We are dedicated to creating an environment where our guests and team flourish, their minds nurtured, and their passions set free to explore the boundaries of possibility. It has been incredible to work with South Africa’s youngest female head winemaker, Kiara, as we build something entirely unique in the Cape Winelands. This is a journey of a lifetime, and I am loving the ride.” – Yvonne Coetzee

Gary and Yvonne Coetzee in the Brookdale Manor House kitchen

Kiara Scott, our winemaker, is as inspiring as she is kind, warm and ingeniously clever. She brings light and passion to every interaction, and fosters a dynamic at Brookdale which encourages active participation and creativity – something we love!

Kiara was born in an area just outside of the City of Cape Town known as the Cape Flats. The area is not home to flourishing vineyards and yet, Kiara found within herself a passion for wines and the vineyards from which they hail. Having graduated from Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute in Viticulture and Oenology in Stellenbosch, she was selected for the prestigious Cape Winemakers’ Guild Protégé Programme. During her three-year tenure, she gained valuable experience working under David Nieuwoudt (Cederberg Cellars), Carl van de Merwe (De Morgenzon) and Charles Hopkins (De Grendel). Kiara also made full use of international opportunities and partook in harvests in the Rhône Valley and Sancerre region of France, as well as the Russian River of Sonoma, California.

Kiara’s experience and mentorship with Duncan Savage led to her appointment as head winemaker for Brookdale from the 2019 vintage. In June 2022, the Western Cape Provincial Parliament adopted a resolution congratulating Kiara Scott on her achievements in the wine industry; notably that ‘she became the youngest head female winemaker in South Africa at the age of just 26; and that she serves as an example for young women everywhere on what can be achieved through hard work.’

Kiara Scott, mother in wine, in Brookdale Manor House

“‘I have a simple and minimal intervention approach to winemaking. I believe that great wines are made in the vineyard. Year on year, I am aiming to better understand our vineyards and soils to make the work in the cellar easier. Our wines will be an expression of vintage-specific terroir and a study in micro-climates as we examine and learn about our vineyard makeup with each new harvest.” – Kiara Scott

This Women’s Month, we thank the women of Brookdale for their endless support, guidance, ingenuity and passion. To our community far and wide, let us celebrate the positive impact women make in shaping not only our society, but ourselves. This Women’s Day, join us as we salute the contributions of the women in our lives, past and present, and share their inspiring stories. And as women, let us continue to learn from and support one another in achieving our goals as people, as businesses, and as a country.

Happy Women’s Day!