SASA new board elected at AGM

Tuesday, 22 January, 2019
Judy Brower -
The South African Sommelier Association (SASA) had a record number of nominations for their new board, which is very encouraging.

Higgo Jacobs has been the SASA Chairman for the last 3 years now and done a sterling job alongside his board members to raise the education bar.  He is stepping down, alongside David Clarke and Tinashe Nyamodoku. The hospitality and wine industry owes them a huge debt of gratitude for all the structures and relationships they have put in place to improve the service levels in South Africa.

Education has been a key focus for the association since inception in 2010, and there are 3 specific levels of education which they support, endorse and examine.

  • Level 1 | Junior Sommelier | Silver Pin - currently 17 graduates

  • Level 2 | Sommelier | Gold Pin - currently 10 graduates

  • Level 3 | ASI Sommelier Diploma - currently 2 graduates.
    This is the only internationally accredited sommelier qualification available in South Africa.

The 2018 AGM was held at the SOMM offices in Stellenbosch on Monday 21st Jan, with the following being elected to the board:

Chairman: Barry Scholfield | SASA Certified Level 2
Spending his formative years growing up amongst wheat and vines in the Swartland area of South Africa, Barry formalised his love of wine through the CWA and WSET in his twenties after working in various high street restaurants, pubs and clubs in South Africa and Europe. A proud SASA level 2 graduate he’s busy wrapping up his WSET L4 Diploma, currently serves on the board of SASA and Somm, where he also oversees the day-to-day running of the business, trains sommeliers, writes about all things wine, consults for various restaurants and works as a sommelier for a small portfolio of restaurants.

Esme Groenewald |  SASA Certified Level 2 | New Member
Working in the restaurants since she was in high school, Esmé now has an impressive repertoire of highly successful establishments on her resumé. Highly qualified through both CWA and WSET she is also proud to be the first female SASA Level 2 Certified Sommelier in SA. Currently an active board member of Somm Hospitality Enterprises where she oversees the Somm 101 education division, works as the main restaurant manager and sommelier for The Vine Bistro and loves challenging stereotypes, bottle of Syrah in hand, in a fairy dress, obviously!

Dickson Motale SASA Certified Level 2  | New member
He started as a waiter in 2009 and worked his way up to a sommelier at Grootbos. Dickson recently passed his SASA Level 2 sommelier examination and is now part of the elite club of 10 sommeliers who hold this title. 

Joakim Blackadder Immenkamp  |  SASA Certified Level 3 ASI Dip.
Studying hospitality and sommellerie directly after school, Joakim has dedicated his life to the vine. After working as a Sommelier and educator in Sweden he emigrated to South Africa where he left a legacy of accolades and awards in his wake including Best Wine Service, Service Excellence and Best Wine Program in Africa and the Middle East to name but a few. Joakim is a diploma graduate from both Wine and Spirits Education Trust as well as The Association de la Sommellerie Internationale. He currently heads the wine program for The Hoghouse Brewing Company while serving on the board of both SASA and Somm. He loves wine so much he proposed not with a ring, oh no, but on one knee with a bottle of Domaine de La Romanée-Conti in hand. As all sommeliers should.

Vice-Chair: Spencer Fondaumiere  | SASA Certified Level 2
Spencer Fondaumiere has been involved in hospitality his entire professional career. Starting out training to be a chef in Nairobi, to starting his first business when at 21, a catering company from his mother’s kitchen to now where he began working in wine centric restaurants working with experienced and knowledgeable sommeliers. Since then Spencer has  earned many qualifications and accolades and looks forward to continued education and interactions in the wonderful world of wine.

Wayve Kolevsohn | New member
Cape-Town born, Wayve graduated from the Cape Town Hotel School and started her career at Michelin starred restaurant, Chez Bruce in South London. Upon her return she quickly worked her way up the ranks and has experience at The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais and then as Head Sommelier of The Test Kitchen in Cape Town. Having studied through the WSET and London Wine & Spirit School, she has worked world-wide and is now the Restaurant and Beverage Manager of the EatOut sustainability award winner, The Werf at Boschendal. 

Xolani Mancotywa 
Starting out on the floor in restaurants, Xolani won Best Young Sommelier in South Africa in 2013 and has worked his way up the ranks, gaining experience in all things hospitality related from working as a chef to becoming a senior sommelier in high end restaurants and hotel chains. He is qualified with the Certified Sommelier (March 2013) from the Court of Master Sommeliers, UK and achieved distinction in several other wine achievements, the Level 3 Advanced exam of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) - Cape Town, South Africa(April 2013) and Level 2 Intermediate (October 2012).  Stepping out into the entrepreneurial world, Xolani is now the creative director of a private hospitality company Chenin Noir.

SASA Achievements for 2018

The board is a voluntary job and I take my hat off to the group who really have made a difference to ensure that training standards in the hospitality industry are lifted and maintained and I urge everyone to become a member to support the good work they are doing. Join HERE
Costs only R300 per annum for the young aspirant and R3000 for the Corporate members.
Currently they have 105 active members - with plenty of room for growth.

Joakim and Spencer have been working very hard at creating the course material for Level 1 & 2 and also preparing the exams which are administered by them.  The actual courses are given by SOMM101 and Sommeliers Academy, both of which have developed out of a need for training hospitality staff.  

There is also work being done to provide a SASA Tasting methodology and structure.

One of the main activities of the last year was the Moet & Chandon Best Sommelier competition, which was won by Jo Wessels, who is currently working in Germany. He will be the South African representative this year  in March 2019 at the ASI Best Sommelier in the World and he will be accompanied by Veritas Wine Writer Llewellyn Lambert to cover the event.

2018 saw the first exams administered by SASA in Johannesburg, and saw 4 pass Level 1.

Well done to the first female Level 2 graduate - newly elected board member Esmé Groenewald.

Regular educational tastings were held - with special prices for members.

Cape Wine was a big focus - and the Sommelier Olympics were great fun held alongside the Chenin Blanc Assocation's Grand Cafe event.

Gaggenau arranged their own Sommelier competition as a partnership with SASA, which Joakim Blackadder Immenkamp won and represent South Africa in Beijing at their World Champs in October.

2019 Plans

The ASI Board are arriving this week to explore South Africa  - and we hope they will consider as a regional examination hub, as well as hold their World Champs here sometime.  Tinashe Nyamuduko is involved with the Zimbabwean Sommeliers Association - and there is a possibility of a Kenyan Sommelier Association, thus bolstering the African Sommelier community.  5 of the world's best sommeliers will be visiting South Africa with this group and SASA are hosting a few dinners alongside other organisationss like the Old Vine Project

The monthly tastings will continue, so be sure to keep up with their events, usually on a Monday.

The WOSA Sommelier World Cup to be held in Sept will be facilitated by many of the SASA Members. Finals on Sat 21st Sept.

If you want to test your skills and want to be counted among the best in the world? Then take the ASI (Association de la Sommellerie Internationale) exam, which is one of the most difficult exams known to the sommelier world, short of the Master Sommelier certification.  Diarise 4th March - and be sure to have R4500 available.


The new board will elect the various representatives and the chair and we look forward to the new energy they bring to the industry.

For more on SASA, visit their website:


Judy Brower

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

Joakim, Esme, Spencer, Wayve & Barry (Xolani & Dickson not present)
Joakim, Esme, Spencer, Wayve & Barry (Xolani & Dickson not present)

David Clarke & Higgo Jacobs
David Clarke & Higgo Jacobs

Xolani Mancotywa
Xolani Mancotywa

Dickson Matola
Dickson Matola

2018 Sommelier AGM
2018 Sommelier AGM

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