Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

FOLLOWING the successful launch and implementation of the Department of Tourism’s Youth Chef training programme last year, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk on Monday launched an additional sommelier training course at the La Motte wine farm, in Franschoek, in the Western Cape.

Sommelier skills have been identified as a scarce skill in South Africa, and in an effort to address this shortage the Department of Tourism has invested R11m to present a 12-month training programme to 200 unemployed youth between the ages of 18 to 34, in partnership with the Cape Wine Academy.

Also known as wine stewarding, Mr van Schalkwyk said a basic knowledge of South African wines was essential and a much sought-after skill in the culinary world. After all, as the saying goes: "good food deserves good wine", he said.

The Cape Wine Academy has signed up some of the best hospitality lecturers, including Institute of Cape Wine Masters Lizette Tolken and Derek Ramsden, to give its students "the best education to enable them to compete professionally anywhere in South Africa and the world", said Mr van Schalkwyk.

He said the sommelier programme formed part of the broader perspective of the National Tourism Sector Strategy, which would address the need for job creation and economic growth, as outlined in the government’s New Growth Path. He said his department was supporting the development of skills and encouraging the supply of skilled labour to assist the local hospitality industry.

The 12-month training programme incorporates four six-week practical work segments in the wine industry.

Distributors and wholesalers who will take in learners include Distell, Meridian and DGB, Vinimark, Smollens, Liquidity, Panniers, Wine Logistics, Swirls, NixAn Wines, Nicholson Smith, and International Wines, together with Beyerskloof, Delheim, Simonsig, Vergelegen and Spier.

The practicals would include front-of-house training in restaurants, retail outlets and hotels, which include Southern Sun, Ultra Liquors, Spar, Shoprite Checkers, The Butcher Shop & Grill and The Baron Group.