Top sommeliers to represent South Africa on the global stage: meet Team SA


The South African Sommeliers Association (SASA) has unveiled the formation of Team South Africa, a select group of the nation’s top sommeliers who will represent the country in international wine competitions. This significant initiative reaffirms SASA’s unwavering commitment to elevating the standards of the sommelier profession in South Africa. 

Among the team members are recent recipients of the Eat Out Woolworths Wine Service Award, Bafana Zondo of Dusk Restaurant and Victor Okolo formerly of Salsify at the Roundhouse (both are Eat Out 3-star restaurants). Their inclusion, alongside Laurie Cooper, one of the sommeliers who presented the wine at the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards, underscores the calibre of talent that SASA is bringing to the global stage. 

“The formation of Team South Africa marks a transformative step forward for the South African Sommeliers Association and epitomises our unwavering dedication to the advancement and professional development of sommeliers across the nation,” said Spencer Fondaumiere, chairperson of SASA. 


Elevating excellence 

Bafana and Victor’s selection is a testament to the standards upheld by Eat Out and its judges, exemplifying the pinnacle of sommelier skill and dedication. Their achievements are a source of pride and inspiration, highlighting the synergy between Eat Out’s commitment to celebrating culinary excellence and SASA’s mission to promote professional growth within the industry. 

 Meet the team

The members of Team South Africa include: 

  • Anika de Jongh 
  • Bafana Zondo 
  • George Young 
  • Jean Vincent Ridon 
  • Jo Wessels 
  • Laurie Cooper 
  • Stefan Reinmuth 
  • Victor Okolo

    Anika de Jongh


Bafana Zondo


George Young


Jean Vincent Ridon


Jo Wessels


Laurie Cooper


Stefan Reinmuth


Victor Okolo

Under the expert guidance of Jean Vincent and Jo, the team will undergo rigorous training focused on peer learning and collaborative growth. This initiative is designed not only to prepare them for international competitions but also to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the wine profession in South Africa.


The team will convene bi-monthly for structured sessions that cover a comprehensive curriculum, encompassing theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and blind tasting exercises. These gatherings aim to sharpen their expertise and ensure they are well prepared for the demands of international competition. 

white wine

A community effort 

This team’s establishment was made possible by a generous donation of R50 000 from Mike Ratcliffe. His contribution has enabled SASA to enhance its programmes, providing budding sommeliers across South Africa with invaluable opportunities and resources. Additionally, the steadfast support of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes has been crucial in empowering the association to cultivate the next generation of sommelier talent. 

Through these collaborative efforts, SASA is empowered to cultivate the next generation of sommelier talent, ensuring the continued growth and success of SA’s vibrant wine and food industry.

Click here to read more about Eat Out’s robust judging process.

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