This Woman From KZN Was Just Named South Africa’s Best Young Sommelier by Moët & Chandon



The world of wine sommeliers is usually male-dominated, so we are hyped AF to hear that Moët & Chandon have announced Laurie Cooper as Best Young Sommelier 2019.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SA Sommelier Association ( on

Laurie is 28 and works as the winemaker and sommelier at Abingdon Wine Estate in KwaZulu Natal. She *been* an overachiever in the wine world: she founded the KZN School of Wine at age 24, she’s a distinction graduate of the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy and is a Wine and Spirit Education Trust graduate too.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by SA Sommelier Association ( on

The finals for the Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier Awards were held in Cape Town and put the finalists through rigorous tests. Winning the award takes more than just knowing stuff about grape skin and pretending to being able to taste hints of coconut and banana; you have to provide the full wine-tasting experience too.

Contestants were quizzed on ‘wine styles, regions of origin and terminology, wine label information, wine regulations, wine storage,’ as expected, plus they were tested on ‘social skills as well as your ability to interact with the patron’.

The semi-finalists included three other women with impressive palates; Katlego Mathobela, Jamie-Leigh Rodgers and Tayla Kirschner, who was awarded runner-up.

Along with the prestigious title, Laurie also wins an all-expenses-paid trip to the Moët & Chandon Maison in Champagne, France, and a trip to Italy. Wine included. She also receives a bursary to study further with WSET, a Coravin (this cool machine that lets you open wine bottles without, like, actually opening them, thus extending their shelf life), and one of those massive 3l Moët & Chandon bottles of champagne to do all the toasting with.

Her plans for the future are to ‘get KZN on par with the rest of South Africa in terms of wine knowledge and service.’

Read more food and drink.