STELLENBOSCH, South Africa (Sept. 18, 2023) — The South African Sommeliers Association (SASA) is thrilled to announce Jean-Vincent Ridon of Sommelier’s Academy as the winner of the prestigious Best Sommelier of South Africa 2023 title. The event took place on Sept. 16 at the beautiful Hazendal Wine Estate, in conjunction with the Star Wist List of the Year South Africa awards.
SASA Chairman Spencer Fondaumiere said, "This is a monumental occasion. Jean-Vincent's victory, after four attempts, serves as a lesson in perseverance, determination, and self-belief. He has contributed significantly to our industry, and his success will undoubtedly inspire many. Congratulations to him and to all the semifinalists, as well as the other two finalists. Each has an inspiring story. I would like to thank the SASA team for delivering a world-class event at a world-class venue."
Competition was fierce, with Laurie Cooper of Abingdon Wine Estate in KZN securing the runner-up position and Tapiwa Jamu of Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel in Pretoria coming in third.
The judging panel included esteemed figures such as Jo Wessels, the world's seventh-best sommelier; Wikus Human of Marble and Saint Restaurants and 2021 Best Sommelier of South Africa; Wayve Kolevsohn of The Royal Portfolio; and Chef Callan Austin of Dusk Restaurant.
SASA General Manager Erica Taylor, who organized the event, said, "The talent displayed today was absolutely world-class. This competition not only highlighted individual excellence but also emphasizes South Africa's growing prominence in the global wine and hospitality sectors."
Ridon will receive an array of distinguished prizes, including the inaugural Michael Ratcliffe Award, a Coravin from Great Domaines, brandy from the SA Brandy Foundation, a €5,000 grant from the IWSC, an invitation to judge at the IWSC in London in 2024, and wines from Stellenbosch Wine Routes and our media partner Wine.co.za.
Stellenbosch Wine Routes, our longstanding partner, has been crucial to the event's success. Elmarie Rabe of Stellenbosch Wine Routes said, "We are extremely pleased to be part of such a seminal event. This competition is more than a contest; it is a celebration of the excellence that our country offers in wine and hospitality."
Special thanks go to our sponsors Amorim Cork South Africa, Winterhalter, and WWF Conservation Champions for their invaluable contributions to the event.
For more information, please contact SASA General Manager Erica Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.