Stellenbosch Wine Routes Ubuntu Trophy 2023 celebrates South African sommeliers' triumph

Thursday, 14 December, 2023
Sommeliers Academy
In a spirited display of expertise and camaraderie, the Stellenbosch Wine Routes Ubuntu Trophy 2023 concluded with a historic win for South Africa's finest sommeliers.

The finalists of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes Ubuntu Trophy 2023. Left: Team Zimbabwe; right: Team South Africa.

The prestigious event, held at Lanzerac on 11 December 2023, marked another successful year of celebrating sommelier excellence on the African continent.

Since its inception in 2020, the Stellenbosch Wine Routes has been a proud sponsor of this acclaimed event. The organisation remains committed to supporting education and development in of sommeliers, recognizing the invaluable role they play in the wine and hospitality industry.

This year's competition, the only international sommelier contest in Africa, was particularly notable for its team-oriented format, embodying the spirit of ubuntu. South Africa's team, comprising Laurie Cooper, Juliet Bowley-Urquhart, and George Edward Young, emerged victorious against a formidable Zimbabwean team in a thrilling final that was streamed live globally.

The competition, organised by the Sommeliers Academy and expertly managed by Jean-Vincent Ridon, Best Sommelier of South Africa, and assisted by Tawanda Marume, Best Sommelier of Zimbabwe 2020, began with a semi-final featuring eleven candidates. They undertook the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) Certification 1 exam, with their scores and the results of a blind tasting determining the finalists.

The final, set against the picturesque backdrop of the Lanzerac Hotel, was judged by an esteemed panel of international judges, including Giuseppe Vaccarini, Best Sommelier of the World, and Michèle Chantome, ASI vice president.

While South Africa clinched the team trophy, individual accolades went to Tadiswa Chikwanha of Zimbabwe, who was awarded the title of Best Sommelier of Zimbabwe 2023. His exceptional performance earned him a R30 000 scholarship from the Chenin Noir Foundation, along with a hamper of Stellenbosch wines and an educational pack on South African brandy. George was recognised as the Best Brandy Taster of the day by the South African Brandy Foundation.

All finalists received a R5 000 voucher from the Sommeliers Academy for further education and a selection of Stellenbosch wines, including those from the Lanzerac Wine Estate.

This year also saw a unique collaboration with the Beer Association of South Africa to promote improved beer service and responsible drinking. Candidates were tasked with serving an array of beverages, including alcohol-free beer and craft brewery ale.

Jean Vincent reflected on the event's global impact, stating: "The Ubuntu Trophy is now a globally followed event, and being based in Stellenbosch, South Africa's most famous appellation, only enhances its appeal."

The Stellenbosch Wine Routes Ubuntu Trophy is a testament to the dedication and talent within the wine industry. It stands as a beacon of excellence, attracting global attention and fostering the growth of sommelier skills worldwide.

Click HERE to view pictures of the day.

subscribe to news
Tadiswa Chikwanha, Best Sommelier of Zimbabwe 2023
Tadiswa Chikwanha, Best Sommelier of Zimbabwe 2023

more news