Cape wine academy produces SA’s next wine generation

Monday, 4 March, 2013
Shante Hutton,
South Africa’s wine industry is moving forward following a healthy push from the Cape Wine Academy and the Cape Town department of tourism in an initiative that saw around 173 people between the ages of 18-34 being trained as wine personalities, capable of entering into wine tourism at any sector.
The program which was 12 months long celebrated its Cape Town students yesterday at the Western Cape Sommelier Level 1 training graduation ceremony.

Marilyn Cooper, CEO of the Cape Wine Academy, opened the proceedings and introduced the many people responsible for the completion, funding and construction of the course.

The course itself was funded by the Cape Town Department of Tourism to the sum of around R13 million and consisted of a mix of written exams and hands-on-experiences. The students were immersed in every part of wine tourism from working as wine packers, to being present in retail shops, hotels and wine farms. The Southern Sun was particularly praised for enabling the students to learn about every aspect of working in a hotel.

In detail, the students completed the following in their 12 months of study:

Workshop 1:  six weeks:   Prelim                     
Industry 1:  six weeks:  Wholesalers
Workshop 2:  six weeks:  Wine Services              
Industry 2:   six weeks:  Restaurants/Retail and Marketing/ Front of house
Workshop 3:  six weeks:  Certificate                        
Industry 3: six weeks:  Retail
Workshop 4:  six weeks:  Wines of the World       
Industry 4:  six weeks:  Hotels

Hein Koegelenberg, chairman of the Cape Wine Academy Board addressed the students affirming that they were indeed in a prime position being that the tourism industry is a key sector with excellent potential for growth.  He further added that “it’s imperative that we invest in our young people and that we turn our obstacles into opportunities.”

The inspirational Beyers Truter was one of the guest speakers and a firm favorite with the students who cheered when he was introduced as the Pinotage King. He praised the student’s dedication saying that they and he himself have the best jobs in the world.

“If ever I feel low, I just walk through the vineyards and instantly I feel better. It is a job that makes you want to work and keep working.” He also quipped, “I can drink in working hours too because people don’t believe that you are a winemaker if you don’t have wine on the tongue.”

He went on to state that selling and marketing wine is an incredibly difficult job, ‘Even if your product is good, it will not necessarily sell. We must get out of that mode of thinking. We must be forward in our marketing and it must be a team effort. Remember, everyone can market wine at any point in the wine and tourism sector. In a restaurant, you can sell it from the front of house, as a waiter and even as a chef.”

Blessing the students, he finished by saying, “I want to talk longer, because you are worth it. Remember to stay passionate.”

Ms Rinah Jonga, the Department of Tourism Training Manager was proud to announce that ‘there is nothing better than seeing and celebrating our combined efforts together.” Of the course, she emphasized the new-found ability the students have to be able to market themselves efficiently and the first-hand experiences they have had of the real-life wine and tourism industry which has been imperative to their growth. were able to host one of the students, Damian Africa in his 6-week internship and he has seen a dramatic change in his life. From working in the SA defense force to doing a food and wine pairing for industry professionals, Damian hopes to become a wine maker and is looking for a job in that sector from which he can raise enough money to further his studies.

However, whilst many of the students spent time at different wine farms, it was very disappointing to see so little support for this graduation from the wine industry. Many chairs that were booked for guests, were left open. We should be supporting each other in this endeavour.

Moving forward will require further dedication and assistance from the wine industry as many of the graduates will either be looking for jobs or funding so that they can study further. If you would like to employ any of these fully-trained graduates in Gauteng or in the Cape, please phone Sibongile Khumalo, the Project Manager for the course, at 011 024 3616 or e-mail her on

The students
The students

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