Italian passion for fine wine and conservation are inseparable elements of Slent, the historic mountainside farm, our home now, and of Ayama wines, where visitors will meet us in the cellar or in the vineyard.

A decade ago, we left our Northern Italian home to go on holiday with friends in South Africa. Like many others, we fell in love with South Africa, the people, the weather and the wine. We returned to the Cape as prospective landowners, took our friends on as financial partners, and bought a beautiful Voor Paardeberg farm, boasting vines, orchards of plums and pears, to which we have added olive groves.

We made light of the difficulties of learning about South African soils, grape cultivars, local cultures and more, while renovating the old farmstead and unearthing unexpected joys such as porcini mushrooms sprouting under old oaks in the autumn.

We remain friends with the local baboon troop even as the latter devises strategies for a share of Shiraz grapes and veggies: In fact one of our wines, a delicious Chenin Blanc, is called Baboons’ Swing, after watching the agile youngsters using poles and wires in the Chenin vineyards as their personal jungle gym.

Ayama’s fine Chenin’s are joined by good Shiraz and Pinotage, three wine cultivars for which the Voor Paardeberg is renowned. Our range Leopard Spot, is a combination of these varieties.

In 2014, we launched our maiden bubbly’s, an admirable trio, with the crisp Rosé, in particular, attracting high ratings. Both of these, along with the reds and whites, and a delectable olive oil, all represent excellent value for money.
In November 2014, we planted two hectares of the very FIRST Vermentino in South Africa, a Sardinian clone going through 6 years of waiting between quarantine and vines to be made. We are working on more and more to share and offer, to be confirmed, or soon to be Ayama FANatics. We can’t take it easy… we are proudly South Africans now… but still Italians!



During the first few years of owning the farm we have been silently looking at how the work-force dynamic and management is organized here in South Africa, knowing that our Italian background would be affecting the business if different cultures and history would not be seriously taken into consideration. We have to thank in particular Judy New, with all her advice on how to handle different situations and requests from employees, especially those living on the farm. It is still a day by day learning process, sometimes it just amazes us how quickly you become a parent for a big community. Truly believing in the WIETA policy, Mandela’s legacy and fair management, we are now very proud of each and every one that is a part of the Ayama team. Slent has a community of 55 people living on the farm and they all love this farm as their own.

Through the years, we have not lacked “blue days”, which is applicable to each country in the world, however, as South Africans, we are proud of all achievements on building a trustable, loyal and enthusiastic team.

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TALIA ENGELBRECHT, Farm Manager and  Viticulturist,  joined the team in 2016. TALIA, a brilliant, passionate young woman, who courageously chose a predominantly male profession. She is also assisting Michela on all social media communications. Leading the team to new challenges set for 2018 and next years, she is shining for her special attention to our Ethical policy and guiding each employee to new goals. Talia has a brilliant future in front of her, her strong personality and no fear of challenging herself to new goals will make of her a great team leader and an example for those looking at management positions. Sharing her viticulture passion with Attilio, improves our team to new farming procedures and delivering high quality grapes to the cellar. Ayama is proud of having the first young woman as manager in the area.

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 ELAINE ABRAHAMS. This lady is the sunshine in the office. No matter what, she always has a smile for you. A strong personality, devoted to community help and a great mother of 2. Being part of our team since 2010, Elaine is the referent for all Farm certifications, employee’s relationship and paperwork  and management assistant. Elaine believes in Ayama’s dream of being an example for the area to change and improving lives around us. Perdjie School needs to thank her dedication too for being a successful project.

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Farming Team

JACKON. “The veggies man”. Handy and curious, grown up professionally to be the referent for the Italian vegetables, assisting Attilio. If needed, drives a tractor, bakkie, he also paints

JOHNNIE. ’The water man”. Born on the farm, generous man, always willing to take care of the farm working hours or not. Drives a moto-bike, be careful, if you see someone looking like Valentino Rossi, South African version.. it is him running to fix a broken pipe! Johnnie’s son, the last Rasta in the family, has a kind and smiling manner

RIAAN. Young troubled man as teenager, he is now assisting Johnnie as a future “water man” and is the best man managing the young vineyards. Talented and brilliant man. But be careful… don’t take him to the wrong side, the lion in him still comes out.

ANDREW, born on the farm, is the “Tractor, spraying man”. Soft at heart and generous, always willing to help. Surely during fire emergencies he is first in line fighting it. He greets you generously from his tractor.

MORNAY, Andrew’s son. A young talented man. Passionate about vineyards, performing very well on pruning and managing young vines. Proudly part of our team since a couple of years now after a couple of small behaviour slips sorted with some personal training.

VUMILE, the XHOSA man. Soft at heart and generous, keeps shaking his shoulders when his wife gives him bad times. Truck and tractor driver of the farm, famous to be fighting with the baboons twisting poles and wires in the vineyard just after finishing fixing them for the next season. He is a great handy man, he can do cement works, stone walls and never tired of painting and fixing anything you ask him. Vumile thought Attilio and Michela in all these years about his culture sharing his life challenges raising 3 children on the farm. His smile is wide and contagious, not easy to make him smile though… takes everything very seriously.

DAWID. Not long ago arrived to the farm, troubled by some past bad experiences, went successfully through a period of personal training. Very thin and tall, but strong like a bull. Do not make the mistake to ask him to pull out a 20 year Oak in the garden, he will successfully do it without tools!

JOHANNES (HANSIE), jokingly called Johnnies back pack, being tiny and sitting at the back of the bike, he is young man working nicely as team member.

JAKO, Hansie’s older brother. Referent for the Union, has a fair view of rights and duties. Not to say that he didn’t get in trouble himself though.

JOHNLIN, excellent tractor, 4 wheels engine tool driver. Speeding a bit sometimes, we had to put a picture of a police man on our roads to slow him down as he joined the team in 2016. He bravely got married in November making his wife and 2 kids, along with us, very happy.

CHRISSIE. There are many things to say about her.  LOVED by everyone on the farm and those visiting us. She has a contagious laugh and smile. Alex misses her during his visits to Italy as she is in his heart, a second mother. She had a difficult youth that she handled bravely turning out to be a fantastic wife, mother, sister and friend. Chrissie has a great son, beautiful daughter and a very “Chrissie looking” grandchild that are filling her “home heart” but she is filling ours in the house. Newly appointed, Chrissie is responsible of the Ayama Rock House and also she proudly manages her team,  Kyla and Charnene. Chrissie and Michela feel as  sisters from the minute they met.

ILENA. A strong, faithful, XHOSA woman. Proud single mother of 2 and sweet grandmother of 1, she is an Ayama fan. She takes all jobs very seriously and never complains. She always has a hug or a smile for everyone but do not mess up with her! She will make sure your behaviour gets back to be fair and honest. She went through a difficult time a few years ago being heavily sick, but Ayama love for her was part of the “cure” to recover completely. We are happy of having her in our team.

RAYNODENE (Dinkie). Strong personality and a brilliant mind. Successfully doing many jobs on the farm, loves working in the cellar. Her future is to further be written with more responsibilities awaiting her.

ANNELINE. Hard working, troubling past woman,  she successfully recovered from a difficult time on her life being now strongly part of the vineyard, cellar team.

ANGELIQUE, Assisting Jackon in the vegetable garden, found her way grow experience on farming. Excellent help in the cellar.

CHARNENE, Assisting Chrissie at the Rock House and managing on her own every day the office neatness to perfection. She loves singing. Don’t look for a radio left on if you pass by some of the rooms she is cleaning, it is her practicing some beautiful songs. Married to Johnlyn a couple of years ago, devoted mother of 2. She loves working in team and she snicks in the cellar helping the other women as soon as she has a chance.


ROSELINE. Working daily at Perdjie School, going to monthly training by Pebbles Project to become a certified teacher. And these are most of our permanent employees, others to become, are trained by our managers as we speak. We do need more people to attend timeously to all practices in the vineyards, orchards and cultivations, here a special thank you to all men and women working at Ayama through contractors.