SASA Best Sommelier of South Africa 2023 at Hazendal

The South African Sommeliers Association (SASA)'s Best Sommelier of South Africa competition, that took place on Saturday 16 September 2023 at Hazendal Hotel, was a really tough one! The semi-finalists who competed on the day were: Jean Vincent Ridon, Georgio Meletiou, Ralph Reynolds, Tapiwa Jamu, Laurie Cooper, George Young, Stefan Reinmuth, and Victor Okolo.

The morning's tests were apparently really hard and only Jean Vincent Ridon, Laurie Cooper, and Tapiwa Jamu made it into the finals, which were presented to the audience of wine industry professionals. Weird cocktail making, wines not actually there, and strange pronunciations by the judges were the order of the day. All three finalists were pretty rattled by it all. Jo Wessels, the 7th best sommelier in the world, set the questions – and wow were they hard!  

But it was Jean Vincent Ridon who won it in the end – félicitations, JV! Well deserved for someone who does so much for the hospitality and service industry. We are proud of you.

Photos: Judy Brower ( and Judy Jacobs (Fem Photography)