Congratulations to new Cape Wine Masters, from left, Raymond Nopp�, Lizette Tolken, Derek Ramsden and Dave March.

What is the potential of the Chinese wine market as an export destination?

“Massive. If conditions were right, South Africa could sell all the wine it makes to China.” This is the conclusion of newly graduated Cape Wine Master Raymond Noppé after completing his dissertation on the subject.

He is one of four fundis –three from the Cape – who graduated from the Cape Wine Academy and the Institute of Cape Wine Masters earlier this month. They join 70 others who are entitled to use CWM before their names, while another 22 are studying to attain this goal

Noppé has been hooked on wine for a decade, starting out as a Winelands tour guide, followed by a stint in the Villiera tasting room and helping to work their harvest, before becoming production controller for Stark-Condé wines. Today he and a like-minded friend, Friedrich von Wielligh, have launched a service to small independent wine producers. Entitled For Lovers of Wine, which produces the acronym Flow, the partners will showcase their products at informal, fun tastings in the city and Boland. “We will,” says Noppé, “take the snobbery out of wine…”

Attorney Lizette Tolken has practised law for 20 years. She is a commissioner of the Small Claims Court in Stellenbosch and has worked as a debt counsellor.

Her interest in wine was sparked by a talk at a school reunion by a CWM passionate about his subject, inspiring her to enrol for a preliminary wine course. Today Tolken lectures and marks assignments for the Wine Academy, spends her holidays visiting the world’s wine regions, and is involved in teaching Langa students as part of a state sommelier project. She made her favourite wine grape, cabernet franc, the focus of her thesis.

Wine investment in South Africa was the subject of Dave March’s dissertation.

This former athlete was hooked by wine during a visit to Australia, and on his return to the UK started learning more, while spending holidays in wine countries around the globe. South Africa, he thinks, offers as much, if not more, to winelovers as anywhere else, which is why he lives here and does freelance wine writing.

Derek Ramsden moved from his family cabinet-making and shop-fitting business into the wine industry by starting a specialist company designing, sourcing, stocking and consulting for private and restaurant wine cellars.

Now with his CWM degree under his belt, he intends pursuing success locally and internationally with his niche operation. He chose to research South African brandy in an international context for his dissertation. - Weekend Argus