Raising a glass: Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp supports the SA sommelier industry with R40 000 donation

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The South African Sommeliers Association (SASA) is celebrating a significant boost in its mission to nurture local talent, thanks to a generous R40 000 donation from media personality and long-time emcee of the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards, Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp. This contribution will fund the education of an underprivileged student at SASA, providing invaluable opportunities for aspiring sommeliers from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue their passion and thrive in the dynamic wine industry. 

A sommelier is a wine expert who curates wine lists, pairs wines with dishes, and enhances the dining experience. This profession dates back to medieval France, where sommeliers managed wine cellars for royalty. Over the centuries, the role has evolved significantly, particularly in the 19th century with the rise of fine dining establishments. Modern sommeliers undergo rigorous training and certification, mastering the arts of wine tasting, service, and storage. They play a crucial role in restaurants, bridging the gap between the kitchen and the front-of-house, and ensuring the guests’ enjoyment of the dining experience.  

“This scholarship presents an extraordinary opportunity to embark on a transformative journey into the world of wine for the fortunate recipients,” says Erica Taylor, spokesperson for SASA. “At SASA, our Introductory to the Junior Sommelier programme is a meticulously crafted pathway to unlocking the prestigious sommelier profession. The comprehensive curriculum immerses students in the theoretical depths of wine knowledge while honing practical service skills and refining their tasting abilities. Once successful, the candidate will progress to the esteemed Junior Sommelier certification, gaining a profound mastery of foundational sommelier expertise that will lay the groundwork for an enriching and rewarding career. This globally -recognized credential opens doors to exciting prospects in South Africa’s thriving wine and hospitality industries. For the passionate individual, this scholarship represents a life-changing chance to pursue a dynamic profession.” 


Elana’s contribution comes from the proceeds of her Shiraz wine range, produced in collaboration with De Grendel Wine Estate, along with a charitable donation from KWV.  

“Making positive change is a core value of my team and I,” says Elana. “We made this Shiraz in the same year my daughter was born, and we named the wine after her. This is the second range of wines I’ve worked on in the past ten years, and the process is incredibly rewarding. I am grateful to everyone who supported the journey. I wish the aspiring sommeliers well with their journeys.” 

Charles Hopkins, Cellar Master at De Grendel Wines, adds, “Creating the Shiraz with Elana has been a highlight for the team at De Grendel. Knowing that our work supports the education and growth of aspiring sommeliers makes it even more special.” 

With such dedicated support and investment, the future of South Africa’s sommelier industry looks brighter than ever. Cheers to the next generation of wine experts!

ALSO READ: Meet Bafana Zondo    winner of the Eat Out Woolworths Wine Service Award for 2023

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