TO remain competitive, renowned wine regions must not only produce quality wines, but tell engaging stories about themselves.
While the quality track record of Stellenbosch is undeniable, the wine route is now going beyond this by embarking on an educational programme to give sommeliers a common language to describe Stellenbosch’s terroir, so that they can communicate the district’s unique wine story and inspire conversations.
“There are so many wine brands,” says Thomas Webb of Thelema. “We need to do everything we can to promote our wines. And our terroir is the most obvious one. It’s important to look at the wards of Stellenbosch and promote them. The more we look at the smaller level, the more we push up the whole region and country. Now is definitely the time for specialisation.”
To create Stellenbosch wine and terroir experts, the Stellenbosch Wine Routes Sommelier Bootcamp will be launched in September. Aimed at sommeliers, hospitality professionals and wine media across the country, this bootcamp will be a five-day intensive course featuring both online and practical immersion in Stellenbosch. It will cover aspects such as viticulture, tutored technical tastings, and site visits with producers and experts. The delegates will have to complete a practical assessment to be awarded their Stellenbosch ambassador’s pin.
“A sommelier has the role of being a guide and gives consumers insights into the South African wine industry,” says Spencer Fondaumiere, chair of the South African Sommeliers Association (SASA). “It’s our job to tell people the story and create a value proposition for someone for something [like Stellenbosch wine]. Marketing terroir will increase price points and value.”
“Regionality is and has become very important and consumers are interested,” says Penny Sati of Penny Noir. “We need to keep the story simple and relatable to the people we’re talking to. Let us tell a genuine story about the amazing wine we make in South Africa.”
The Stellenbosch Wine Routes Sommelier Bootcamp will be based on the educational Stellenbosch terroir toolkit released earlier this year, addressing the need for knowledge on regional typicity. It is aimed to equip sommeliers, buyers and retailers with easily accessible facts to create memorable experiences of Stellenbosch and its wines, covering topics such as the history of Stellenbosch, terroir on a microclimate level and its influence on specific expressions of Stellenbosch grown varietals.
- If you are a wine, hospitality or media professional interested in becoming a Stellenbosch wine and terroir expert, please apply here by the 2nd of September to attend the inaugural Stellenbosch Wine Routes Sommelier Bootcamp 2022.