Sandi Notwala

Sandi is usually heard by his bellowing baritone laugh before he is seen. And when you do see him he has a proud beaming smile to match. He loves nothing more than making happy guests by chatting about the surrounding wine regions, local gins and making cocktails.

Grootbos Foundation - Distell Inter Hotel 2019 Wine Steward Candidate Sandi Notwala
His story starts almost 9 years ago as a young man living in Gansbaai, where he had grown up. One day a friend invited him to join the Green Team for some temp work, an initiative of the Grootbos Foundation focusing on clearing alien plants and rehabilitating the land. After seeing his ability to work hard and focus on the job at hand, they offered him the position full time. For 2 years he did this important work, connecting with the land and plants on Grootbos and further afield.

On completion of his contract he decided to keep working with his hands and did freelance construction work for 3 years. When he found himself living in the small town of Stanford he approached Springfontein Wine Estate and secured himself a job working alongside the horticulturist and viticulturist: planting vines, pruning, tending to the soils and laying irrigation.

One day he saw a poster at the taxi rank – the Grootbos Foundation was offering to educate interested students in the hospitality industry, and he jumped at the opportunity. The focus was on housekeeping and bartending. Grootbos’ sommelier also gave a lecture and after that Sandi knew he wanted to work at the bar and learn more about wine. He was offered a position with Grootbos in the lodge and 3 years later he enjoys it more than ever – constantly looking to perfect those cocktails, gain more knowledge about wine and all the different alcohols, and chatting with guests who visit from around the world.