Wosa marketing manager in The Netherlands, Sara Channel, was recently named Wine Woman of the Year by Perswijn Magazine. WineLand caught up with her and asked a few questions…
1. Could you tell me a bit more about where you work and what your responsibilities are?
I work from my home office in The Hague – unless I’m on the road. No day is ever the same. I could be building a stand for a show, getting dirty unpacking samples in the warehouse, or setting up for Platter’s tasting with journalists. The next moment I could be sitting with supermarket buyer talking about ethical trade and end up in a restaurant in Amsterdam drinking wine with a visiting winemaker, catching up on what’s happening at home and sharing what is happening in the market here. I love the diversity.
2. What attracts you to wine?
For me as an expat in The Netherlands, doing work for Wosa gives me the opportunity to represent and promote my country away from home. I love talking about our amazing people in the industry and what we have achieved over a short period of time. We have some very special people and breath-taking vineyards in South Africa. It is always a pleasure to show visitors around on trips. Of course the social side to wine is a big drawing card – I love meeting new people and seeing new places.
3. What are some of the constraints you face on a daily basis?
A small budget teaches you how to be creative – that has always been the challenge when you compare South Africa to other countries. The big advantage we have is that there is a lot of goodwill towards South Africa. Of course I am only one person and you can’t be in more than one place at a time, but I try to get out and about as often as possible. We have an unique position in The Netherlands for South African wine and I know that we could achieve even more if we had the means.
4. Tell me about your most amusing (or most embarrassing) wine experience.
Not recognising the big boss of one of our biggest supermarket concerns at a party – I only realised it was him after half an evening of chatting! He must have found it pretty amusing too.
5. What does the title “Wine Woman of the Year” mean to you? And to Wosa?
It was completely unexpected and such an honour. Also because the recognition came from people whoM I really respect. I hope this gives me the opportunity to open more doors for South Africa.
6. Is there a mentor or somebody else in the wine industry that you would like to pay homage to?
It would have to be Hans Bootsma from Ahold. Until recently he was the South African buyer for Gall & Gall and Albert Heijn. He has really set an example in listing premium South African wines in the retail and giving talented young winemakers a chance on the shelf. He is terminally ill and my thoughts are with him and his family.
7. Please complete this sentence:
My favourite wine is a Swartland Chenin Blanc, because of its authenticity and sense of place.