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F1S Tastemakers: South Africa’s Rising Wine Star

South AfricaWine

Luvo Ntezo is head sommelier at One&Only Cape Town

At 32, Luvo Ntezo never imagined the professional success he would achieve at such a young age. Named the Best Young Sommelier in South Africa, he spent his early years in a bleak township. Today the star oenophile travels the world as a wine ambassador of his country. He is head sommelier at One&Only Cape Town, in charge of the largest wine library in Africa. He’s also very passionate about his home – Cape Town.

How did you get your start in a career in wine?
As hotel pool porter. I was waiting on an English family. At that time, most of our guests would just order a glass of wine, but this family ordered a bottle. I had never opened a bottle of wine before, and after trying repeatedly, I finally had to ask the family for help. the next day I went to winemaker John Loubser to teach me all there was to know about wine. Under his wing and together with Cellarmaster Herman Hanekon, I gained an understanding of both the production and the tactical side of winemaking. From there my passion for wine grew, and in 2006 I studied at the Cape Wine Academy in Stellenbosch while working as a sommelier. In 2008 I took part in the Young Sommelier’s category in the national Chaîne des Rôtisseurs competition in South Africa.

What do you love most about living in Cape Town?
Every Monday I drive through the beautiful winelands.  I find it so humbling that the diversity of this one fruit has helped cultivate a culture and city that makes us one of the most amazing destinations in the world. History has a way with wine, and the Cape’s wine culture, which goes back 350 years, is one that both reflects the country’s troubled colonial and apartheid past – but also shines with the potential and expectation of the modern wine world.

Where do you send first-time visitors?
The Franschhoek Valley is a spectacularly beautiful wine route.  With many of the wine farms sharing a French Huguenot heritage, expect to find enormous French influence here and not surprisingly a Champagne-inspired sparkling wine known as a “Cap Classique.”  The village of Franschhoek abounds with art galleries, antique shops, restaurants and boutique hotels.

What are your favorite places to eat?
Apart from a Braai (Afrikaans for barbecue) at home, I really enjoy Harbour House in Kalk Bay. The seafood is magnificent. And it’s a beautiful spot where you can watch the fisherman unloading their catch.  For steak, my go to is Belthazar.

What is a South African dish you insist visitors try?
Springbok loin. It’s very delicate, tender and flavorsome. It pairs perfectly with Beeslaar Pinotage made by Abrie Beeslaar (International winemaker of the Year) another of my South African favorites!

Favorite wine of the moment?
Oneiric Shiraz, this wine is so expressive of the Elgin Terroir with very elegant blackberries, sweet spices and well-integrated tannins.  It is a very fine example of an exceptional Shiraz.

When in Cape Town, you must…
The restaurant scene in Cape Town is trendier than a hash tag, but Jason Bakery really stands out– this spot is approaching cult status for their bread and their sandwiches – it is one of the best spots for people watching in Cape Town – plus the coffee is insane too.

Take to the street on First Thursdays. This art movement in Cape Town is where all the galleries in the city are open at night – the city is really vibey, and everyone is walking around the city, pausing for refreshments and snacks en route. Keep an eye out for the impressive street art throughout the city.

Hike up Lions Head during a full moon and have a picnic overlooking the city.

Any secret spots in Cape Town you want to share?
Bree Street is one of the coolest spots in the Mother City, from quaint eateries and artisanal bakeries to up-and-coming art galleries, world-famous coffee shops, and pop-up boutique stores. It’s my little black book of most “Instagrammable” hotspots and reflects the real culture and soul of the City Bowl.

When is your favorite time of year to see Cape Town?
Springtime [August – mid-October] in the Cape is magical. Days are glorious – warm, clear and fragrant with the scent of the magnificent flower season. Get ready for blankets of wild gorgeousness bursting into vivid color. It’s utterly spectacular.

Are you traveling these days?
I’ve just returned from a trip to Italy, Dubai and New York representing One&Only Cape Town and South African wines.

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