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South African Sommeliers Association Launches Team South Africa to Compete Globally

Updated: 2 days ago



Stellenbosch, 9th July, 2024 — The South African Sommeliers Association (SASA) is proud to announce the formation of Team South Africa, an elite group of the nation's most skilled sommeliers dedicated to representing South Africa in international wine competitions.


This initiative underscores SASA’s commitment to excellence in the sommelier profession and aims to elevate the global standing of South Africa’s wine industry.


Bafana Zondo, Anika de Jongh, Victor Okolo and Jean-Vincent Ridon


Team South Africa is composed of top-tier sommeliers selected for their profound knowledge and expertise in wine theory, practical skills, and tasting acumen. The team members are:


  • Anika de Jongh

  • Bafana Zondo

  • George Young

  • Jean-Vincent Ridon

  • Jo Wessels

  • Laurie Cooper

  • Stefan Reinmuth

  • Victor Okolo

Under the leadership of Jean-Vincent Ridon and Jo Wessels, the team will engage in rigorous training, focusing on peer learning and collaborative growth. The initiative is designed not only to compete internationally but also to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the wine profession in South Africa.


Bi-Monthly Training Sessions to Prepare for International Excellence

The team will meet bi-monthly, participating in structured sessions that cover a comprehensive curriculum, including theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and blind tasting exercises. These gatherings are aimed at sharpening their skills and preparing them for the demands of international competition.



George Young, Laurie Cooper, Jo Wessels and Stefan Reinmuth


A Community Effort

"The formation of Team South Africa marks a transformative step forward for the South African Sommeliers Association and epitomizes our unwavering dedication to the advancement and professional development of sommeliers across the nation," said Spencer Fondaumiere, Chairman of SASA.


"Guided by the experienced hands of Jean-Vincent Ridon and Jo Wessels, and supported robustly by the entire SASA board, this initiative is not merely about achieving international success; it’s about cultivating a legacy of excellence and knowledge in the field of sommellerie that resonates globally. We believe that by empowering our sommeliers through rigorous training, collaborative learning, and international exposure, we can significantly enhance the reputation of South Africa as a leader in the global wine industry."


Supporting world-class wine excellence

This team would not be possible without the generous donation of R50,000 given by Mike Ratcliffe to our Association. Mike’s unwavering support and belief in our mission have been instrumental in helping us provide opportunities and resources to budding sommeliers across South Africa. His contribution has enabled us to enhance our programs, ensuring a bright future for our industry.


Additionally, we extend our deepest gratitude to the Stellenbosch Wine Routes for their constant support. Their ongoing collaboration and commitment to promoting excellence in South African wines have been invaluable to our Association. The partnership with Stellenbosch Wine Routes not only provides us with unparalleled access to some of the finest wines in the region but also fosters a sense of community and shared purpose in advancing the sommelier profession.


Together, with the generosity of Mike Ratcliffe and the steadfast support of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, we are empowered to cultivate the next generation of sommelier talent, ensuring the continued growth and success of our vibrant wine industry.


For more information on Team South Africa or to request an interview, please contact: Erica Taylor, General Manager: Erica@uncorkified.com





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