Wine steward candidates with Nederburg winemakers.

While South Africa’s tourist numbers are powering ahead in anticipation of the local summer, 23 wine stewards have been undergoing intensive training. Their next-level wine service and knowledge education, dubbed Grape to Glass, forms part of the major skills transfer initiative that underpins the 2023 Inter Hotel Challenge, now sponsored by HEINEKEN Beverages.

The 23 trainees, representing top hotels in the Western Cape, Gauteng, North West and KwaZulu-Natal are being prepared for this year’s challenge, now in its 11th year.

Their practical and theoretical syllabus has been designed by Jean-Vincent Ridon of the Sommeliers’ Academy, together with representatives from the Cape Wine Academy. Mentoring has included visits to various wineries and distilleries including Nederburg, Durbanville Hills, J.C. Le Roux (where Pongrácz is made), the James Sedgwick Distillery (home of South African whiskies including Three Ships and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky) and Van Ryn’s Brandy Distillery.   

The top-performing candidate will win an all-expenses-paid two-week HEINEKEN experience in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) as well as wine courses with the Sommeliers’ Academy, the South African Sommeliers’ Association (SASA) and the Cape Wine Academy.    

Millicent Maroga, corporate affairs director for headline sponsor HEINEKEN Beverages has emphasised that the Inter Hotel Challenge aims to fast-track skills in hotel and restaurant services, from wine stewards to mixologists, chefs, bakers, baristas, concierges and more.

Winners will be announced on 28 November. 

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