Tag Archives: sommeliers

Get to Know Us: Sommelier Q&A with Welma Beukes

September 11, 2015 - Did You Know?

Among Singita’s expert members staff are a number of certified sommeliers; professionals trained in the production, storage, service and pairing of wine. One such sommelier is Welma Beukes, who has the happy task of matching wines with guests at Singita Sabi Sand. Here she tells us a little more about her love of wine, her favourite varietals and what guests can expect from the “wine journey” at Singita:

Welma Beukes - Sommelier at Singita

1. Tell us about your journey during your wine career – how has your wine career progressed over the years?

My dream has always been to become a winemaker and create my own label. I studied viticulture and ended up at a well-known winery for two years, analysing and understanding the chemical structure of wine. Calibrating my palate towards the analysis really helped me to understand wine in a different way. There are so many aspects to be covered in the wine industry and I wanted to be involved in as many as possible before pursuing the creation of my own label. Being a sommelier interested me the most, so I completed the Singita training program as well as a professional qualification in Bordeaux, France. Continuing education in this industry is important and I love learning more about wine so I’m also currently broadening my knowledge with a specialist qualification in Wine and Spirits through WSET.

2. Where does your love for wine come from?

I grew up in Paarl, one of the major wine-making regions of the Cape. My best friend’s father was a winemaker at the time and this sparked an interest in the industry. Wine has just always fascinated me; how it constantly evolves, pairing it with food and creating wines for every occasion.

Wine at Singita

3. What are some of your favourites – wine styles?

I am, of course, biased towards South African wine and my favourites include interesting white Mediterranean-style blends with Chenin Blanc and Roussanne as the base. I love a well-balanced Chardonnay and some of the amazing reds that South Africa is creating at the moment. I also enjoy sweet dessert wines where the balance is right between sugar and acidity – they go perfectly with my favourite blue cheese!

Internationally, my favourite wine style is Champagne, and in particular the small producers that use a method where they close the bottle with a cork during the secondary fermentation, as suppose to a crown cap. This gives the Champagne extremely fine mousse and it really feels like you are tasting the stars, just like Dom Pérignon said.

Wine at Singita

4. What are some interesting trends taking place with wine – locally and internationally?

Cinsault has been the backbone of South Africa’s wine industry for many decades. It can offer delicate aromatics, sweet red fruit, good acidity and amazing longevity. This lighter wine is mostly used by producers as a blending partner but could well be the “next big thing” in the local industry, along with dark-skinned grape variety, Syrah.

5. What do Singita guests appreciate about the wine experience?

Mostly it’s getting an introduction to South Africa’s finest wines. Each one is selected with guest enjoyment in mind, and for specific environments and locations in and around the bush. The majority of our guests are used to drinking more mature red and, in some instances, white wine from all around the world. The Singita wine journey allows them to try South African wines in a similar style. Singita Premier Wine offers an extensive wine list for every palate, while the sommeliers on the floor help guests to discover different varietals and styles that will suit their preference.

Wine at Singita

Keep an eye out for Welma and our other sommeliers on your next visit to Singita Sabi Sand, and, if you’re a wine-lover, be sure to book a tasting in the wonderfully well-stocked cellar.

Singita Premier Wine is the department dedicated to sourcing and supplying wines for all the Singita properties. The wine list at each lodge offers an average of 180 different bottles, all of which need to be painstakingly selected, purchased, matured and distributed throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. You can read our blog to find out more about the process of stocking the cellars and how each wine list is designed.

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From Cellar to Sideboard: Wine at Singita

January 23, 2013 - Accommodation,Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Sabi Sand,Singita,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Samp risotto served with white wine at Singita Kruger National Park

Attention to every detail of the Singita experience, including the pairing of food and wine, is just another way that we aim to delight our guests. Our team of wine procurers and sommeliers are consummate professionals in their field and have the enviable task of sourcing and managing hundreds of top-end wines for our highly discerning guests.

Singita Premier Wine is the department dedicated to sourcing and supplying wines for all the Singita properties, and has been in operation for more than a decade. It is headed up by François Rautenbach, who manages the selection, purchase and temperature-controlled maturation and distribution of each and every wine. He also oversees the service of the wines, from hosting informal wine tastings with guests, to managing an in-house sommelier apprenticeship program along with the managers at each lodge.

An evening wine tasting in the bush at Singita Sabi Sand

Each property shares a primary wine list, but it is tweaked with additional wines or older vintages to suit each lodge on the property. On average, a Singita wine list has in excess of 180 wines, many of them at least five years old. “In compiling our lists, we try to include not only unique wines but also lesser known producers to ensure a sense of adventure and newness,” says François.

Sommeliers are on hand at all the lodges, handpicked not only for their wine knowledge, personality and exposure to travel, but also for their love of the African bush. Over the years, many of Singita’s sommeliers have been qualified winemakers mentored by François to guide guests through several vineyards, vintages and cultivars to enhance their knowledge and appreciation of South African wines.

François Rautenbach

It was a logical step to establish Singita Premier Wine Direct, a unique guest service that makes South African wines available as personally selected consignments to take home or to be shipped door-to-door anywhere in the world.  Guests either choose to take their wine with them as carry-on baggage, using specially produced re-usable Singita Poly-bags, or it is sent as an export wine consignment. Exports account for a remarkable 30 percent of what Singita purchases.

“Singita Premier Wine Direct is available to current, past and future Singita guests, but usually comes into play when specific wines have been enjoyed in camp. Key to the service is developing a personal guest wine profile of wines enjoyed and purchased, so that we can offer future wine selections geared to specific preference,” explains François.

Expanding and tailor-making a world-class wine service across the collection of Singita lodges and camps is a constant challenge, but one which François relishes almost as much as mentoring his growing team of sommeliers.

The wine cellar at Singita Lebombo Lodge

For more information or to order wine through Singita Premier Wine Direct please contact us at premierwine@singita.com.

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