The SA Sommelier Association took in its first students yesterday, for its first locally-developed Foundational Sommellerie course. The course has been developed for aspirant and young sommeliers, who will earn the title ‘SASA Sommelier’ on completion of the course.
Eight sommelier students will spend three days learning from our country’s top sommeliers and hospitality executives, who helped write the course material. Neil Grant, David Clarke, Joakim Blackadder, Higgo Jacobs, James Pietersen, Jörg Pfützner, and Jean-Vincent Ridon are the lecturers.
Sommelier students are Taryn Nortje (Benguela on Main Restaurant), Job Jovo (Grande Roche), Luke Erickson (Belthazar), Chantelle Johansson (Steenberg), Marine Point (Cape Point Vineyards), Mercy Mwai (Nobu), Ralph Reynolds (Karibu), and Lara Farbinger (Hoghouse). They will learn about practical aspects of the trade, as well as the managerial back-of-house elements that are hard to acquire on the restaurant floor. Specific aspects of the course include wine list construction, service training, and wine faults. Foundational Sommellerie candidates should ideally have previous beverage training, or a qualification in line with WSET Level 2 or the Cape Wine Academy’s Certificate Course or higher, plus a minimum two-year front-of-house experience. Classes are purposefully kept small.
Joakim Blackadder said about the course: ‘For various reasons, including a growing appreciation of the sommelier’s contribution to a restaurant’s success and tighter visa requirements for foreigners wishing to work in South Africa’s hospitality industry, the demand for suitably qualified sommeliers has increased sharply over the past few years. But, while there are a number of options available for budding sommeliers and want-to-be sommeliers when it comes to wine education, there are none that address the rather unique combination of hospitality and beverage service that is crucial to the efficient and profitable functioning of restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels‘.
He added: ‘Further, many of the country’s professional sommeliers are not active on the floor; they are involved in various wine and hospitality-related businesses. This means that there is little on-the-job training and mentorship for youngsters who want to improve their skills. SASA believes its Foundational Sommellerie programme will go a long way to redressing this, and we eagerly await feedback from our first candidate participants and their employers at the end of the course‘.
South African Sommelier Association, www.sommeliers.org.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here