SA’s new ‘wine ambassadors’

29 May 2003

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) presented diplomas earlier this month to the first group of students to complete a new custom-made wine course for black hospitality industry operators in Cape Town. The two-month course was created by the Cape Wine Academy (CWA), and the 15 students were sponsored by WOSA.

According to Su Birch, CEO of WOSA, the course will help bridge the divide between the traditional wine community and emerging tourism operators.

It is intended as a vehicle to promote Cape wine tourism while providing operators with the necessary skills to offer tourists an informative and entertaining experience.

To meet the differing needs of both restaurant owners and tour guides, the group was divided in two. After the preliminary classes those in the restaurant trade focused on wine service, storage and wine and food combinations, while the course for tour guides concentrated on the different wine regions and varietals.

Both groups did several tastings and tours to gain practical experience, and at the end of the course of about two months sat for a formal CWA examination.

Birch sees the course as a big step towards creating new wine ambassadors for South Africa and contributing to the Cape wine experience of international tourists.

“We also like the idea of working with established operators who have a vested interest in learning about wine to enhance their service levels and the profitability of their businesses”, Birch added.

WOSA will present the course on a regular basis, with the second starting later this year.

Western Cape Tourism CEO Mike Fabricius commented: “The days of two separate tourism industries – township and mainstream – are over. We are entering a new phase, where visitors will be offered a seamless tourism experience, and the wine industry has a vital role to play in building bridges in this regard.”

Senzeni Ndebele, marketing manager at WOSA and course co-ordinator, said that various new business ideas came out the course.

“Paula Gumede of One City Tours is going to use expand her beer garden in Mandalay into a fully-fledged wine shop, and Jeannie Fletcher has formed Yamme Investments (‘yamme’ is Sotho for ‘my mother’s’), a women’s investment group that will start marketing wine under their own label towards the end of the year.”

Source: Wines of South Africa