The new rockstars

Friday, 1 November, 2013
Judy Brower -
If you are not a sommelier, then you are just so last year...
Move over, hot-shot winemakers, the new rockstars of the hospitality and wine industry are the sommeliers.

The 3rd Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award has been awarded to Kayetan Meissner, Cellar Master at Bosman’s Restaurant at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl. He will soon be undertaking Certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers and we wish him well.

Kayeton had just been to the Austrian embassy before the awards ceremony to apply for a Schengen visa, and thought he may as well apply for a multi-entry visa just in case. Turns out he will be able to use it - as one of the prizes is a trip to France.  Kayetan was so very excited to learn he was the winner - very charming.
And then as if the pressure was not enough, he was asked to do a sabrage, which he did with aplomb! 

The runners-up are Barry Scholfield (Rust en Vrede) and Xolani Mancotywa, recent winner of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Jeunes Sommeliers Competition. Xolani has just moved to Dubai to work there as a sommelier at The Capital Lounge and sadly could not attend the function. Xolani represented South Africa in Washington DC and came 4th in the World Champs.

South Africa has lagged behind the rest of the world when it comes to taking wine waiters seriously. But the last few years has seen a constant growth in awareness, training and appreciation of good wine stewards, what with the creation of the South African Sommelier Association, the WSET courses being available locally, and plenty of competitions to acknowledge and recognise those sommeliers who are extremely knowledgeable and are also charming, funny and accommodating.

We have just had the WOSA Sommelier Cup, which saw 12 top sommeliers from around the world coming to South Africa to experience our winelands first-hand. This is a great way to create loyal ambassadors for South Africa. A brilliant move by WOSA.  Now if we can have a similar project in South Africa - all around the country, it would be wonderful.

Other competitions held during the year were the Inter Hotel Challenge, the 2013 Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Jeunes Sommeliers Competition, as well as the One&Only Reaching for Young Stars competition, which honoured both young chefs and wine stewards.  The Cape Wine Academy also ran a program earlier this year where 100 young previously unemployed youngsters were taken on board for internships and training.
The hospitality industry needs more trained staff and they need to be acknowledged for their work, and it is wonderful to see these competitions growing to inspire the young wine stewards and sommeliers alike.

An interesting phenomenon in the sommelier world is the fact that so many of the up and coming (and some more established sommeliers) are black.  The wine industry has struggled to show much transformation with most events being lily white still, so it is encouraging to see many more black faces being at the forefront of representing the wine industry in top hotels and restaurants.
Sommeliers are the gate-keepers and the wine industry should be doing all it can to encourage, educate, inform and share their knowledge with them.

Being the 31st of October, we were not celebrating halloween, but Global Champagne Day as well, so the delicious French champagne was flowing - how lucky were we?  Gosset, Ayala, Laurent Perrier and plenty of Bollinger of course to go around.

But on reflection... surely we should have a South African wine sponsoring this competition?

For more pics of the event - click HERE

Judy Brower

Judy has been running alongside her hubby Kevin Kidson since 1996. She takes photos, attends functions, occasionally writes, sells services, is Mrs HR at the company, cooks yummy lunches from time to time and generally is the glue at