Laurie Cooper has been crowned Moët & Chandon Best Young Sommelier 2019. At age 28, she is the winemaker and sommelier at Abingdon Wine Estate in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, believed to be the first family owned estate to produce wines from the province.
With her father, she runs all the viticulture and viniculture on the four-hectare estate.
Cooper is a Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma graduate and, at age 24, founded the KZN School of Wine in January 2015. She is the head lecturer at the school, a SA Sommeliers Association (Sasa) level 2 certified sommelier and a first-year master of wine student.
Cooper is a distinction graduate from the Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy and has served as a judge for the South African Airways wines selection panel, as well as the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and the International Wine & Spirit Competition in London.
She works alongside the South African Sommeliers Association and department of tourism in training young sommeliers across South Africa, overseeing the KZN division.
Cooper’s prize includes a trip to France to visit the Moët & Chandon Maison in Champagne, followed by a week in Barolo, Italy, where she will participate in the inaugural Collisioni Festival.
She receives a bursary from the International Wine Education Centre to study at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and an opportunity to compete in the Best Sommelier South Africa challenge in 2020.