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South Africa Jeunes Sommeliers

National Winner 2012

Twenty-seven-year-old Jeff Lopes – an Assistant Restaurant Manager at Johannesburg’s Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas and Spa – plans to uphold South Africa’s reputation as an unbeatable wine-loving nation when he comes up against eleven of the world’s top young sommeliers at the 6th International Final of the Jeunes Sommeliers Competition in Cape Town on September 21, 2012.

“My passion for wines was ignited when I worked in a Michelin 1-star restaurant on the south coast of England,” Jeff said.

But it was probably inevitable that Jeff would grow to love good food and good drink.

“I grew up in a typical Portuguese family where we always had these big family meals and my grandfather grew his own vines. He had us press the grapes with our feet and he made his own home vintages.”

Once he knew what he wanted in life, Jeff moved back to South Africa and began to learn his craft in earnest under mentors Francis Krone and Gareth Ferreira.

The International Final is taking place in South Africa for the first time. The programme for the competitors will include visits to the country’s most prominent wine-growing areas.

“It’s going to be great exposure for South African wines,” said Jeff. “I know the other young sommeliers are going to really enjoy our wine routes, and they’re going to love the hospitality of the people they’ll meet here.”

Mimi Finestone
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NB. The Bailliage of South Africa National Final of the Jeunes Sommeliers Competition was held at the Saxon Hotel, Sandhurst (Johannesburg) on May 30, 2012.