Our Winemakers | Zonnebloem

Our Craftsmen

At Zonnebloem, there are two things we appreciate when it comes to the people that take part in crafting out wines – the patience to observe the passage of time, an understanding that grapes will not be rushed and wines will not be hurried; and the importance of skill that comes from generations of experience. Get to know more about the winemakers and growers that channel their passion and dedication into Zonnebloem wines.

Elize Coetzee

Cellar Master

After graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in viticulture and oenology from the University of Stellenbosch, Elize Coetzee completed her first harvest under the expert guidance of Bruce Jack, before jetting off to pursue her passion abroad in California to grow her winemaking skills. With 17 years’ experience, Elize has dedicated 13 years to the winemaking at Zonnebloem and today holds the title of cellar master.


Having started her Zonnebloem journey in 2005 as an assistant winemaker, Elize quickly climbed to the role of white winemaker in 2010.


With her appointment as cellar master, it became Elize’s mission is to produce A-grade wines for every variety. “I have been fortunate to work very closely with our red winemaker, Bonny van Niekerk, for over a decade now, as well as our recently appointed white winemaker, Dumisani Mathonsi.’’


She adds that collectively, the team holds 32 years of experience, making the outlook for Zonnebloem very fruitful for years to come.


For Elize, the most memorable part of winemaking is right at the beginning of the process when she digs deep to find the best synergy of all the grapes’ components to make that perfect classic blend. ‘The best reward is then seeing other people enjoying your wine, and to think, wow, I facilitated that joy.”


When not crafting beautiful wines, Elize finds her passion by focussing on all her “B-ests”. “For me, it’s Books, the Bushveld, my two Boys and husband, Braaiing with friends or Bawling my eyes out to a good TV drama series.”


Elize is married to Wilhelm, red winemaker at Durbanville Hills.

Bonny van Niekerk

Red Winemaker

With two decades of winemaking experience under her belt, Bonny van Niekerk is Zonnebloem’s winemaker responsible crafting classic wines in the winery’s core range of red varieties.


Bonny discovered her passion for winemaking at a young age. After high school, she attended the Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch, where she completed a Diploma in Cellar Technology. She was then afforded the opportunity to work at the Adam Tas winery, where Zonnebloem wines are made.


The hunger to learn more however, didn’t stop in Stellenbosch for Bonny. She worked in California and gathered marketing experience in Northern Ireland. Six years later, having worked with some of the best in the industry, Bonny returned to Stellenbosch to continue her path at Zonnebloem.


The most memorable wine she has ever tasted was during her first fermentation at Zonnebloem. “I have never been so terrified and proud at the same time, as I was only an assistant winemaker at one of the oldest wineries in the country,” she says. “Nowadays, I am even more critical when tasting the finished blends, as I always try to think of ways to improve the quality of the wines.”


She views the end of every harvest as a beginning. “You have to start afresh, literally from scratch, and work your magic with what nature has given you.”


Despite the great sense of responsibility that comes with producing top red wines for Zonnebloem, Bonny says she’s often rewarded. “I love it when I’m in a restaurant and walk past people enjoying Zonnebloem wine – it makes the hard work worthwhile.”


Outside work, Bonny loves spending time with family, friends, in nature and with animals. “I do work for animal rescue organisations. Saving an animal is a buzz: that’s where I get my energy from,” she says.

Kelly-Marie Jacobs

White Winemaker

Kelly-Marie Jacobs was inspired to become a winemaker after reading an article of winemaker Debbie Thompson, now Cellar Master at Simonsig.


She grew up in Kuils River, where she still resides, and obtained a BSc in Viticulture and Oenology at the Stellenbosch University directly after finishing school at Settlers High School. She worked for four years from 2013 to 2016 at the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, under the Elsenburg Agricultural College, where she harvested and lectured in the fields of Oenology, Biochemistry and Wine Marketing, and arranged exchange programmes with the CFPPA wine school in Beaune, France.


She joined the Zonnebloem team as Assistant White Winemaker towards the end of 2016 and was recently promoted to take lead responsibility for the white wines.


Well-travelled, she has been to Burgundy, France twice, did a harvest in the village of Pommard and travelled to Mendoza, Argentina, to broaden her winemaking knowledge.


She enjoys reading, watching old school gangster movies, and talking wine!