Green & Blue opens doors for SA trainees

23 August, 2007

The owners of south London-based independent wine merchant Green & Blue have chosen their first candidate for a new training scheme.

Husband and wife team Jude Liddle and Kate Thal returned from a trip to South Africa two weeks ago, where they chose

someone to take part in their Sommelier Scholarship.

The course was dreamed up by South African-born Thal, who wants to give one young black South African the opportunity to learn about wine, including how to sell and serve it.

The idea is that the recruit returns to their homeland after one year, qualified to work in the wine industry.

Thal said: "It's something I've wanted to do for a long time because the wine service in South Africa is not that brilliant, although the wine has improved.

"The wine industry there is still very much run by, and caters to, white South Africans, although it is starting to change. I just think it's important that there is a diversity of people selling wine in the South African market and that it's not always white people."

Student Thandisiwe Meyi, currently an employee at the Spier estate in Stellenbosch, will start his training at the Lordship Lane branch next January

for six months before becoming a junior sommelier at one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants for a further six months.

Thal said: "He'll be part of the team here and won't get any special treatment, although he'll probably be nagged more than most to attend tastings with me. He'll also do our School of Wine for 13 weeks, which all our staff do."

The scheme is being sole-funded by Green & Blue, which opened its second store

in Clapham last month.

Thal said she was already planning to grow the scheme to offer more places in the future.

"Depending on how well Green & Blue is doing, we'd like to have five or six people doing the scholarship every year in the next few years," she said.

The couple are also working on increasing the size of their shop in Clapham, which currently dedicates more space to the bar area.

Thal said: "We want to be retail and bar, we don't want to be one or the other."

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