Su Birch to leave WOSA in September24th April, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt
Wines of South Africa CEO Su Birch is to leave the organisation after the inaugural Beautiful South tasting in London this September.
Birch, who has been CEO of the wine industry association since 2000, said that she intends to take “a brief sabbatical” and then focus on developing marketing plans for a range of clients.
Speaking about the challenges for businesses in South Africa, Birch, aged 63, said, “Rising costs and a volatile exchange rate are forcing South Africans to work smarter and with greater agility in order to be heard in an increasingly competitive environment, whether locally or internationally.
Continuing she commented, “Working to very tight budgets demands stringent discipline but also encourages creative problem-solving. This is where I believe I can play a meaningful role.”
News of her decision to leave WOSA came after it was announced that Birch was winner of 2013’s drinks business Green Awards Lifetime Achievement Award.
Birch has played a key role in advancing South Africa’s reputation as one of the most progressive wine-producing nations in terms of eco-sustainable wine production.
Under the banner “variety is in our nature”, she has actively promoted the country’s competitive positioning in producing a rich variety of wine styles.
She is also credited with spearheading South Africa’s Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) which has seen producers set aside substantially more land for conservation than the equivalent of the national vineyard.
“The Lifetime Achievement is a high note on which to announce my plan to leave WOSA later this year. I shall be leaving the organisation with a sound international team in place at the same time that the country has evolved into a significant player in world wine markets, well on its way to capturing and building on new opportunities.”
Birch said that the search for a successor would take place over the coming weeks. She also noted that will remain in her position until the end of September to oversee The Beautiful South – a collaborative tasting in London for wine associations for Argentina, Chile and South Africa.
As well as her latest achievement, Birch is a former winner of both the drinks business Woman of the Year and the International Wine and Spirit Competition’s Women in Wine Award, and last year was identified as one of the ten most influential personalities in the world of wine by UK market analysts Wine Intelligence.