South African Sommelier Association Strategy 2020

Tuesday, 7 May, 2019
South African Sommeliers Association
Now in its ninth year the South African Sommelier Association, under the guidance and leadership of our predecessors, have managed to pave the way for a culture of fine wine and service excellence in South Africa.

But things are changing, the industry is maturing, new challenges are arising and I no longer need to explain what I do for a living to every person I meet. It’s down to every second.

For those of you who hadn’t noticed, in January of this year, we voted in a new board of directors to the South African Sommelier Association. Xolani has since stepped down to concentrate on his new and exciting venture. He however remains fully committed as a member of SASA and will continue to support on the educational front as a representative of the CMS. More on that later. We thank Jean-Vincent Ridon, the next candidate in line, for stepping up and taking his place.

Five months in and it feels like we barely blinked. But the newly elected board and I have been hard at work, crafting a plan to address the needs of an ever-evolving industry. Asking ourselves some simple questions, that lead to complex problems. And after much head scratching, I think we have a plan.

Although we seven have been tasked as the senior directors of the organisation, this year's nominations saw the highest turnout to date and we thought it would be a shame to not include the other candidates in our efforts of driving the profession. Therefore, this year, we plan on mixing things up and getting more done, by getting more of you involved.

Let me start off by stating plainly what our goal is for the next two years:

Upping individual memberships by adding more value in the form of subscription discounts, educational support, career guidance and regional tastings, all driven by regional representatives with an in-depth knowledge of the local market.

Increasing corporate hospitality memberships by providing local access to staff training and accreditation. And, for wine producers, structured feedback from, as well as access too, the sommelier industry with regular guided, themed tastings, wine assessment and feedback sessions. (See our new corporate membership structure on the website here)

Improving the overall state of South African sommeliers, helping to further position South Africa as a world-class food & wine destination, increasing revenue for businesses, opportunities for aspiring sommeliers and remuneration for those that have put in the hard work.

In collaboration with the Tops at Spar wine show, one senior SASA representative will be touring the country, going to our members, setting up meetings in Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Nelspruit, to not only gauge the need for but the resources available to set up a local chapter.

Apart from local chapter leaders, we will need people strong in social media, copy writing, event management and even administration.

Want to promote the sommelier profession in your area? See more educational tastings, sommelier courses and exams? Do you know of someone or see yourself as the representative for sommeliers where you work?

The South African Sommelier Association is expanding and we need your help. If you think you can add value to one of these proposed positions or have something in mind that we haven’t thought of, please let us know at | Get involved