SA Wine Routes and the Cape Wine Academy join forces to improve training of cellar personnel

Friday, 11 June, 2004
Emile Joubert
Better service levels at the cellar door necessary if South Africa is to become a serious-player in wine tourism.
The Cape Wine Academy (CWA) has joined forces with the SA Wine Routes Forum (SAW) to improve service levels at wine cellars throughout South Africa in an effort to maximise the country’s wine tourism potential.

This entails offering a new wine course which focuses on improving the services offered by wine cellar personnel. The two day course was designed after representatives of the CWA and the thirteen districts represented by the SAW unanimously agreed that better service levels at the cellar door were necessary if South Africa wished to become a serious-player in wine tourism.

According to Nicolette de Kock, chairperson of the SAW, wine tourism is one of the fastest growing components of the wine industry. “Cellar guides, sales and wine tasting personnel must be seen as being just as important to a winery’s success as wine makers and viticulturalists. Our studies show that one bad experience at a cellar’s tasting room or sales area can cause a tourist to write-off not only the cellar, but also the wine of that specific region and country.

“During a recent SAW meeting it was decided to take active steps in ensuring that all wine cellars of South Africa’s thirteen wine regions meet the minimum expected standards in service and wine knowledge. Their professionalism and focus on service will also be compared to that of the world’s greatest wine countries,” she said.

“The SAW acknowledges that there is ample room for increasing service levels and, although South Africa has made progress since joining the international wine industry, the focus on training is essential if our cellars are to rise to a higher level. As South Africa’s foremost wine education facility, the CWA is ideally suited to assist in the further education of cellar personnel.

“However, it remains the responsibility of representatives of the wine routes to ensure that training is given to cellar personnel. Although the course is not compulsory, it is highly recommended by all members as they agree that it is in the best interest of the cellars and wine regions to attend this course,” said De Kock.

According to Reinier Matthee, managing director of the CWA, the CWA’s activities are not only directed at the public and other interested parties wishing to learn more about wine. The academy is also planning closer co-operation with the wine industry. “The academy aims to identify the various aspects of the South African wine industry where training is required in order to make us a world-class player in the wine tourism industry,” said Matthee.

“The academy and SAW representatives acknowledged the different needs and subsequently designed a course that teaches cellar personnel in reception areas how to deal directly with visitors. The two day course consists of human relations, history of the South African wine industry, the character and function of wine tourism, public relations and food-and-wine-combinations. The SAW identified these areas for training in order to increase knowledge and skill among cellar personnel.”

Matthee also mentioned that although the academy is based in Stellenbosch, they will accommodate learners where necessary by travelling and presenting the course in remote regions. “It is important that the CWA is perceived as a flexible organisation whose doors are open to accommodate the educational requirements of the wine industry. We simply cannot compete with other wine countries without the necessary knowledge and training,” he said.

Issued by: Emile Joubert , MediaVision