Laurie Cooper has been crowned Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier 2019. At age 28, she is the winemaker and sommelier at Abingdon Wine Estate in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the first family-owned estate to produce wines from the province.
Together with her father, she runs all the viticulture and viniculture on the 4-hectare estate.
Laurie is a WSET Diploma graduate and, at age 24, founded the KZN School of Wine in January 2015. She is the head lecturer at the school, a SASA Level 2 certified sommelier and a year one Master of Wine student.
As if that didn't wow us enough, Laurie is a distinction graduate from the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy and has served as a judge for the SAA wines selection panel as well as the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and London based IWSC. She works alongside the South African Sommeliers Association and Department of Tourism in training up young sommeliers across South Africa, overseeing the KZN division.
There were two women who made it into the list of semi-finalists, Katlego Mathobela and Jamie-Leigh Rodgers, while one of Laurie's runners-up was another outstanding woman sommelier, Tayla Kirschner of the Sommeliers Academy.
By claiming the title of Moët Best Young Sommelier 2019, Laurie has secured a coveted all-expenses paid trip to France to visit the Moët & Chandon Maison in Champagne, followed by a week-long visit to Barolo in Italy during July 2020 and participation in the Collisioni Festival Progetto Vino. Accommodation, meals, winery visits and seminars are all included.
The winner also receives a bursary for WSET education from the IWEC, a Coravin and a coveted opportunity to compete in the Moët & Chandon Best Sommelier South Africa challenge in 2020. And of course a Jeroboam (3 litre) of Moët & Chandon to toast to her celebratory #moëtmoment!
Following this milestone, the 28-year-old shares that her "biggest passion is to get KZN on par with the rest of South Africa in terms of wine knowledge and service."
"I would love to train an army of certified sommeliers," she adds.
Laurie also shared the following advice to aspiring sommeliers;
"Just do it! When you doubt yourself and your nerves take over, enter the competitions, take the exams, grow. You will never know what you can achieve until you put yourself to the test. Each journey is a learning curve."
Compiled by Afika Jadezweni
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