Search for South Africa`s top cellar talent begins in Paarl
The search for South Africa’s top cellar talent has commenced in Paarl with a gruelling round in wine identification at Windmeul Cellar yesterday, as part of the annual Cellar Assistant of the Year competition.
Ten candidates from the Paarl Wine Route were presented with 20 wines whose cultivar and analysis they were asked to identify in a blind tasting format. The candidates, who were nominated by their home estates, received intensive training over preceding weeks. Those who performed well will join their colleagues from other regions across the Western Cape in the National Cellar Worker of the Year competition, the highest level of recognition for South African wine cellar workers.
The candidates will be questioned on their performance at work, and participation in their local community. The final phase pares the group down to the top third, who present to the judging panel on a wine topic of their choice. Finally the candidates analyse a wine in discussion with the panel, who pre-select the wine.
Cellar Assistant of the Year began in 2003 as an initiative in the Paarl Vintners’ program to celebrate the contribution of an often unrecognised group. Soon after additional wine wards and regions joined in, forming the National Cellar Worker of the Year competition.
The judging panel is comprised of respected industry members, and is convened by experienced wine judge and lecturer Charl Theron. Previous winners have included those who have shown initiative in starting their own career in wine; often under adverse personal conditions. The competition heralds a round of awards in Paarl, the next to be the Santam Paarl Shiraz Chenin Challenge, starting today at Nederburg estate.
The winning cellar worker will be announced at a gala event on 22 August at the Grande Roche in Paarl. The top ten Chenin Blanc and Shiraz wines of Paarl will be announced at the same event, which is open only to media and invited dignitaries. Public tastings will take place in October and November in Johannesburg and the Cape respectively.