Cape Wine Academy restructures to broaden reach

Friday, 12 March, 2004
William Marais
Marilyn Cooper (CWM) and Reinier Matthee take over from Clive Torr (CWM)

The Cape Wine Academy (CWA) has been restructured to accommodate growth into new areas that will see the institution play a stronger role in providing support to the South African tourist industry, while reaching a broader audience through 'edu-tainment', it was announced by CWA board member William Marais.

He stressed that in no way would the CWA’s traditional function diminish. The organization, established in 1978, would continue to offer accredited academic wine courses from beginners’ modules all the way through to the Cape Masters in Wine, as well as training for the hospitality industry.

Marais said the restructure had been prompted by the continued expansion of the Cape’s wine industry, the ongoing launch of new wineries, the opening up of new wine growing areas and the surge in wine tourism, as well as the need to build national public awareness of wine and its responsible consumption. 'By offering academic courses, as well as modules meant for a broader public that use entertainment as a teaching mechanism, we believe we can promote a culture of wine.

'Wesgro has calculated that the annual gross output value of businesses involved either directly or indirectly in wine is R14,6bn, while tourism contributes a further R3,5bn a year to the local economy. It has therefore become imperative that more training is provided in wine knowledge and wine service to the rising number of role players in the wine and hospitality industries, from worker to executive level. It is obviously essential that such training be accredited to protect and maintain standards and to ensure a world-class offering, which is where the CWA can play a key role.

'At the same time, we need to promote wine as a drink of choice among more South African adults in fun and non-threatening ways.' He said the new direction being taken by the institution meant that the demands placed on the principal had become too onerous for a single individual to manage.

'Clive Torr, our current principal, who is also an internationally respected vinter, has decided to leave the full-time employ of the CWA, as he wants to devote more of his time to his increasingly successful winemaking pursuits both in Stellenbosch and France.

'We have split his position into two very distinct functions – one with an academic focus and the other with an operational focus. Marilyn Cooper (CWM), until now the Gauteng manager of the Academy, assumes the role of national academic head from April. Her responsibility will include all academic functions in the Cape and Gauteng, as well as the satellite offices in Windhoek, Durban, Port Elizabeth, etc. Reinier Matthee has been appointed managing director to run the institution as a business, building new markets and developing partnerships with various players in the wine, tourism and related industries, aimed at building a broader public understanding of and appreciation for wine and brandy.'

Matthee, an attorney, has extensive experience in the corporate arena, having worked for such organizations such as Pioneer Foods and the business division of BoE Bank (now part of Nedcor), as well as in the deciduous fruit industry within the Re Inc Group of Companies. Marais said Torr would continue to teach CWA students in the Cape on a basis that would accommodate his winemaking and consulting schedule. 'We are very fortunate in being able to make use of his expertise. He enjoys a high profile in the wine community and is a respected wine educator.' Of Cooper, who joined the CWA in 1999 and has judged in the Fairbairn Capital SA Trophy Wine Show, the Diners’ Club Awards and other leading wine competitions, he said:

'Marilyn has played an integral role in raising wine standards and also making wine more accessible to a great many South Africans. She has increased wine consciousness and helped build the demand for wine among consumers. We consider the fact that she is based in Gauteng a major advantage, as it positions her at the centre of the country’s biggest and fastest growing wine market.'

Issued by: De Kock Communications for Distell (Pty) Ltd
Contact: William Marais, Distell
Tel: +27 (0) 21 949-3494
Queries: Reinier Matthee, CWA, MD
Tel: +27 (0) 809-7597

De Kock Communications
Contact: Pippa Pringle
Tel: +27 (0) 21 422-2690