The Wines of South Africa board is looking for a new chief executive after Su Birch announced last week she was stepping down in September following 14 years in the post to work on new projects.
The organisation praised Birch for her “key role in advancing South Africa’s reputation as one of the most progressive nations in driving eco-sustainable wine production”, spearheaded by the Variety is in our Nature campaign.
Andre Morgenthal, WOSA’s commu- nications manager, said: “The recruitment process will begin shortly. The position will be advertised in South Africa and the Wines of South Africa board members will make the final decision. Su Birch has elected not to be involved in the process but will conduct a full handover to her successor.”
Steve Barton, joint director of First Cape supplier Brand Phoenix, urged the body to consider its approach.
He said: “I hope there is a change in angle to something that is much more lifestyle-based, which is South Africa’s main appeal.
“The message needs to be that South Africa is a safe, cool and free country. It has to be more simplistic and about the lifestyle, the consistency in the wines and pillar brands.”
Bernard Fontannaz, founder of Origin Wines, said although WOSA had not been central to the success of his brands, the trade needed a strong generic voice and appealed to the board to look abroad for Birch’s replacement.
He said: “In our case, WOSA hasn’t until now, at least, made a real differ- ence. However, as an industry, we need a generic body to support the overall image it can build versus the commercial targets one might have. To be fair, the issue, to date, has been more about funding, which is very limited.
“As we know, in a fragmented and diversified industry such as the South African industry, there are very different views on what the future should be. I hope that whoever replaces Su will come from abroad in order to offer a totally fresh new take on our industry.”