Son of the Soil wines
Wine producer | Simonsig brand ambassador | Youth development
In the industry since 2003
Director of EverGrow Foundation
Even as a young man, Denzel Swarts had clear ambitions and an unusual resoluteness in pursuing them. Determined to study winemaking, he used his savings to enroll in a vineyard pruning course at the Elsenburg Agricultural College. The only trouble was, he was still in his matric year – and so absent from school for a semester. He kept up with his homework at night (getting notes from friends on the sly), but was eventually found out. His parents were more baffled than angry. ‘What is this child doing?’ In the end, Denzel completed both the Elsenburg course and his matric in the same year.
Today, Denzel believes that his family’s bafflement has turned into appreciation. Both his grandparents and parents were workers on the Simonsig estate, but he is the first to study (and continue studying) wine in any formal sense. Now a brand ambassador on that same estate, Denzel also heads up sales and marketing for the coastal region. With each success comes new ambition. ‘One day, I want to own my own farm.’
From 2006 to 2011, he left the wine industry to pursue a career in youth development – working with NGOs. But, since his return to Simonsig, he has merged these two worlds and, in 2016, created the Son of the Soil Leadership Foundation. Through the estate, he produces his own wine range – sales of which go to fund the mentorship of Grade 10 learners. ‘I want to help them get through to matric.’ His team offers academic and psychological support.
Unsurprisingly, Denzel has lots more he wants to do. In 2020, he completed an honours-level degree in business administration at UCT’s Graduate School of Business
; something he considers a professional highlight. In the short-term, he’s also looking at producing his own five-year old brandy.
When he considers the local landscape, he is straightforward and passionate; sometimes blunt. ‘I hold our industry dear, but I advocate for change.’ It is a form of tough love. ‘Reconciliation is an ongoing conversation.’ Denzel imagines a genuinely united South Africa, where a person’s heart is more important than their skin. ‘I just want to tell my people’s stories.’