About Thornton Pillay

Born and Raised in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Thornton Pillay is proud of his Heritage. He is the first South African Winemaker of Indian Origin, and now shares his remarkable journey through his elegantly crafted wines.


From humble beginnings, Thornton Pillay was fortunate to have parents that were both involved in the agricultural (fruit and vegetable) industry. This sparked his interest in pursuing a career in Agriculture. He went on to attend an Agricultural high school known as Weston Agricultural College. Upon Matriculating, He enrolled at Elsenburg agricultural college (University of Stellenbosch) to study towards a Bachelors Degree in Viticulture and Oenology.

In 2012, As a young 20 year old qualified winemaker, his journey had only just begun. He realised that he was the first South African winemaker of Indian origin; something his forefathers would have never thought possible. Upon graduating, and the moment he met his wife Lee-Ann, He was chosen to be a part of the Cape Winemakers Guild Protege Programme. He was provided the opportunity of working alongside South Africa’s greatest wineries and winemakers. Thornton’s journey begun at Ernie Els Wines with Louis Strydon followed by Groot Constantia with Boela Gerber. He was fortunate to have traveled to France in 2014 to make wine in Burgundy at Comte Armand. He then went on to being the Assistant Winemaker for KWV (the mentors) cellar before heading back to KZN midlands where he established vineyards and produced wines at Highgate Wine Estate. His journey continued back to the Western Cape where he was the Assistant Winemaker for Bruce Jack wines at Appelsdrift and Black Oyster Catcher.  Today, together with his wife Lee-ann, Thornleigh was created- a celebration of love, commitment and culture. Find a cosy spot and enjoy a bottle with those you love. Wine can be appreciated by anyone, regardless of who you are or where you come from. This is the message that resonates with Thornleigh.

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