BACKSTORY: Steenberg Vineyards’ Elunda Basson
We question Elunda Basson, cellar master & COO of Steenberg Vineyards
What is your one top tip for doing a deal?
Act with integrity, stay true to who you are as a business and always keep the brand’s long-term business objectives top of mind.
What was your first job?
Assistant winemaker at Rickety Bridge in Franschhoek 1998.
How much was your first pay cheque and how did you spend it?
I earned R3,000 and most of it went into paying my rent, food and petrol money.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
The power of compound interest.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
The country’s abuse of alcohol. Wine is a beverage that can be enjoyed, relished and appreciated. Unfortunately, during these tough times with Covid, alcohol use comes under scrutiny, affecting many businesses and livelihoods.
What is the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
In my next life I want to come back as a barista and live in Italy.
What is the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
Buying Lotto tickets.
What is the best investment you’ve made?
My best investment was to start a savings policy at the age of 25 — and I will be forever grateful to my mom for suggesting that I start saving early. The other was to start investing in rental property at an early age.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
Don’t judge people on their past. People learn, people change, people move on.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
The moral high ground — when people use it as an excuse to dislike others who don’t share their values.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
I think my younger self would be impressed to know all my hard work paid off in the end, and that I was blessed with a wonderful winemaking career and an incredible family.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? If so, what would it be?
Sure, there were times I considered changing, but I think I would have still wanted to stay in some kind of agriculture. I have always been fascinated by cheesemaking, so maybe that.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I would work on eliminating the dependence on and abuse of alcohol to eliminate it as a burden on hospitals, thus allowing the wine industry to continue to sell even during the upsurge in Covid cases.
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