Meet 2005’s Woman Winemaker of the Year, Debbie Thompson, who confesses that her involvement in the industry was more a case of fate and luck than active pursuit.
Born in Oranjemund, a small diamond mining town in Namibia, our red winemaker started her winemaking career at Simonsig in 1999 – that’s 17 vintages under the belt!
- Why did you become a winemaker?
In 1996 I went to the University of Stellenbosch with the idea of becoming a vet. However, being a first year student – as most of you know – life was all about trying new things and experimenting. Being in the heart of one of the most beautiful wine producing areas in the world, visiting wine farms and tasting a lot of great – and not so great – wines soon rated as one of our favoured extra curricula activities. Let me just say veterinary science took a back seat. So it was more a case of fate and a big pot of luck that brought me to the industry.
- What is the most challenging part of job?
Finding the balance between being the best winemaker I can be, while also being the best mom to my daughters and a loving wife to my husband.
- How would your colleagues describe you?
Dedicated, hardworking, a team player and a leader.
- What is your personal theme song or mantra?
Fight Song by Rachel Platten.
- What did you want to be growing up?
It was a juggle between marine biologist, game ranger and vet.
- How do you relax or unwind?
With lots of red wine… On a more serious note though, jogging or running. Exercise makes me feel better about myself resulting in much happiness. It’s a combination of fresh air, concentrating on my breathing and taking in the sheer beauty of my surroundings that makes me feel relaxed.
- Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Charlize Theron. Coming from humble beginnings and rising above her circumstances to be one of the most successful South Africans to date.
- If you could choose your age forever, what age would you choose and why?
Forty. It is the age where I have learnt, lived and loved the most. I also believe it the age that women passionately pursue the best of life and become more conscious about how they spend their time.
- If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
To look into the future and to fly of course!
- What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being awarded Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2005.
- What is your most treasured possession?
My two daughters, Hannah(7) and Jesse(4).
- How would you like to be remembered?
For being real.
- Did you ever want to change your name to something else?
No. Why? Debbie does everything.
- What is the worst job you’ve done?
Luckily I have not been in that position.
- What has been your biggest disappointment?
Being betrayed by someone I trusted.
- What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Don’t sweat the small stuff and look at the bigger picture. Life is too short.
- What do you owe your parents?
Allowing me to make my own decisions and supporting me.
- Which wine will you be having with dinner tonight?
Simonsig Redhill Pinotage 2015.