On Wednesday 5 November, Gareth Ferreira was announced as the winner of The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award 2014. Gareth, Sommelier at the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg at the time, and now off to London to pursue an exciting new position, was the unanimous winner of this year's competition. He received the Riedel Glass Trophy and a trip to France including a visit to the Champagne House of Bollinger, including air fare and accommodation in Champagne.
The Competition Finals, which took place on Monday 6th October at Ellerman House in Bantry Bay, saw the three finalists Angie Langlands (Sommelier at The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu Natal), Cashias Gumbo (Sommelier at La Colombe Restaurant in Constantia, Western Cape at the time and now at the Saxon Hotel) and Gareth Ferreira faced with a day of written exams, a blind tasting and a rigorous practical assessment.
Ginette de Fleuriot, Cape Wine Master, The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award organiser and one of the judges, was very pleased with the overall results, "Gareth Ferreira is a very worthy winner of this competition, having taken on the challenge to conscientiously hone his skills, which enabled him to perform with excellence at this competition."
Gareth began his food and beverage training at The Ritz-Carlton: in Florida in the USA before being transferred to Doha, Qatar. Wine really started becoming a huge part of Gareth's life when he worked as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager at the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg. This was his first opportunity to work as a wine professional and, during this time he represented South Africa in the international finals of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommeliers Competition in Athens, Greece in 2011, and also passed his introductory and certified sommelier exams with the Court of Master Sommeliers UK.
In 2012 Gareth was afforded the opportunity to work with a 10-man international sommelier team at the world's most luxurious hotel, the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, as one of the hotel's senior sommeliers. In October of that year Gareth passed his advanced level sommelier certification, on his first attempt, with the Court of Master Sommeliers UK. Gareth then returned to the Saxon Hotel to take up the position of Head Sommelier and Beverage Manager. Gareth has also been on the board of SASA (South African Sommeliers Association) and has judged many sommelier and wine competitions such as the national Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Young Sommeliers Competition, the WOSA Sommelier Cup and the IWC (International Wine Challenge). He has just taken up a brand new position in London where his professionalism is certainly going to stand him in very good stead.
The judges of the 2014 Finals were:
Ginette de Fleuriot: Organiser of The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award, a Cape Wine Master and Marketing Manager at Vinimark The Wine Company.
Higgo Jacobs: Sommelier and Consultant and a Senior Judge at the International Wine Challenge (IWC). Higgo also tastes for various local competitions and publications and is General Secretary and a founding member of the South African Sommelier Association (SASA).
Neil Grant: Chairman of the South African Sommelier Association (SASA) and Sommelier and co-owner of Burrata Restaurant in the Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock, Cape Town.
The South African Sommelier Association (SASA) is fully behind The Bollinger Exceptional Wine Service Award and some of its members are judges at the Semi-Finals and the Finals. The Association aims to provide training and mentorship to guarantee the continuous development of professional standards of wine service at the highest level.