Passion, humility and teamwork are some of the values that we honour most as a company and qualities we look for when welcoming new members into our family. They are essential elements in our ecosystem; coexistent principles that drive a shared sense of responsibility for protecting Africa’s most vulnerable landscapes.
Singita Sabi Sand Sommelier, Ngoni Mtizwa, is part of this ecosystem – and next in our series introducing you to the #PeopleofSingita – bringing these values to life and embracing his contribution to the future of this continent.
South Africa is renowned for producing some of the world’s most dynamic, progressive and exciting wines. As a South African company, Singita is recognised as one of its most influential collectors of wine, with an extensive cellar showcasing a premium selection, including some of the continent’s most sought-after private reserves. Our focus on an exceptional food and wine experience is part of what draws guests to our lodges and camps, but it is also what makes these properties so attractive to industry professionals looking for a new challenge.
For Ngoni, an initially unsuccessful application for the position of sommelier prompted him to try his hand at being a barman instead, knowing that it could be an opportunity to grow into his dream job in the cellar – an instinct that served him well. His knowledge and love of wine was clear from the start, as was his determination to embrace any chance to develop his skills.
A chance encounter with a previous employer lead to a sponsorship at the Cape Wine Academy (CWA). Having already earned a Business Science honours degree in Sociology at the University of Zimbabwe, he was no stranger to hard work and, enthralled by the course material, he flew through the first of three courses he would take at CWA. After joining Singita, he would also go on to complete WSET Level 3 and become a Certified Sommelier with Court of Master Sommeliers Europe.
Now in his third year at Singita, Ngoni is living his dream of working with wine and sharing his passion with our guests. He loves the challenge of working with the chefs to develop interesting wine pairings and especially enjoys hosting guests for dinners and wine tastings out in the bush. Introducing travellers to South African wines, which he says offer “the element of surprise – the wow factor”, and the peacefulness of the working environment are other highlights of his role at Singita Sabi Sand.
Ngoni has an obvious talent for his chosen profession but he also demonstrates remarkable flair for creative thinking. One such example was his concept for a unique wine and art pairing which brought much delight to a group of international guests visiting Singita as part of a South African art experience. Bringing expressions of joy and surprise to their faces was part of just another day at work for Ngoni but it was the kind of special touch that guests are unlikely to forget. His next step, as soon as circumstances allow? Writing his Advanced Sommelier examination with the Court of Master Sommeliers and continuing on his impressive trajectory as one of the South African wine industry’s rising stars.
The cellar at Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park
As with all that Singita does, community upliftment is central to the Singita wine programme. Director of Singita Premier Wine, François Rautenbach, has created a special training programme for enthusiastic young wine lovers, developing the next generation of sommeliers for Africa. The training provides educational assistance, personal mentoring, formal wine training and access to Africa’s finest wine programme. It is part of our portfolio of community partnerships projects, which you can learn more about here.