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Support our sommeliers - they’re still the best wine brand ambassadors


19 June 2020  -  Sommeliers Academy

Very few sommeliers have been able to work since lockdown began on 26th of March 2020. More than anyone, the wineries understand how deeply damaging this period has been for them. Sommeliers will still be the best ambassadors for the industry, however, when restaurants, wine farms and wine bars resume full operations.

For the moment they will be struggling, having lost their income, and will undoubtedly require additional support to maintain their exceptional skills and their palates. The unfortunate truth is many cannot afford to, as they will have to dedicate their meager resources just to fulfill their family’s basic needs.

To help keep their skills up to date, Sommeliers Academy will be offering free online seminars for all professional sommeliers who are currently distanced from the day to day operations. To give this effort the dimension it deserves, Jean-Vincent Ridon, being a seasoned sommelier himself, has been reaching out to the best South Africa wineries for a support in wine to allow sommeliers to keep their palates sharp.

The wine industry initial answer has been very generous. Thelema, Signal Hill, L’Avenir, Villiera immediately answered the call to support the sommelier community. Furthermore Radford Dale donated hampers displaying Alex Dale’s famous Burgundian flair with Pinot, Gamay and Chardonnay while Klein Constantia is offering packs of mixed sauvignon blancs with tutorials from Matthew Day accessible online for the wines to be enjoyed as if they were seating at the Estate.

The wines will be included in the educational programmes from Sommeliers Academy.

“I have been so overwhelmed by the initial support from the wineries that I had to ask Xolani Mancotywa and Wikus Human to help Sommeliers Academy Gauteng head facilitator, Debi van Flymen CWM, to distribute the wine fairly among sommeliers in need in Johannesburg” says Ridon.

More wineries are expected to support this drive to help the sommeliers over the coming days. Sommeliers Academy is gearing up to face this flow of fabulous bottles so sommelier can maintain their skills with wines they cannot otherwise afford at this point in time.

Sommeliers Academy will distribute the wines equally amongst professional sommeliers, regardless of their origins, nationality, social background or wine education provider. Sommeliers Academy will use their branches in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to reach out to sommeliers through our extensive industry contacts nationwide.

Ridon says that “some sommeliers may be too proud to publicly accept the help, and we need to respect their dignity, it is a very hard time for all of them”. However, a register will be maintained so donating wineries know where the wine has been sent to. Total transparency and accountability are not negotiable but respecting the privacy of those in need must be addressed.

Sommeliers who wants to benefit from these generous gestures from the wine industry must contact Sommeliers Academy Whatsapp number 0826232400 or by email on somm.academy@gmail.com. The Sommelier will then be given the links to the free educational seminars and the logistic to get the great wines they direly need so stay on the top of their art.

Wineries willing to help the sommeliers can contact Jean-Vincent RIDON directly. This crisis is not over, and the new regulation allowing restaurants to offer a sit-down menu but no alcohol will still keep them in disarray.

Stay safe and please help make a difference.