The award was made at ProWein this week.
The Wine Intelligence 10 for 10 Business Awards have been created to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of Wine Intelligence, which is now a global operation working in 20 countries.
The awards are designed to celebrate individuals in the wine business around the world who have made a significant contribution to the success of the global wine industry in the decade.
Felicity Carter, editor of Meininger’s Wine Business International and one of the 10-strong panel of judges, presented the award. She said: “In the past ten years, Su has trebled sales in international markets. South African wines are storming into markets like Holland, Germany and the UK.
“Beyond the wine trade, Su has been involved in a number of sustainability issues. She has been involved in initiatives to get people from disadvantaged backgrounds into the wine trade, and has had an enormous role in promoting sustainability in South Africa,” said Carter.
Birch attributed her success during her 12-year tenure at WoSA to strong backing from her colleagues. “I think it’s because I have the best team in the world, everyone out there in the different countries [where WoSA has offices] who do such an amazing job,” she said.
A total of 30 prominent wine trade figures from around the world were nominated by the judging panel, and a further nine awards will be given out at a series of events organised by Wine Intelligence throughout 2012. These will include events at London International Wine Fair, Vinexpo Hong Kong, and the Outlook conference in Melbourne, plus separate events in San Francisco, Madrid, Santiago, and southern France, with a grand finale in London in November.
Fellow nominees included: Michael Cox of Wines of Chile UK, journalist and wine judge Tim Aitkin MW, winemaker Etienne Hugel, Ross Brown of Brown Brothers, and fellow South African and chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine, Lynne Sherriff MW.