She is said to be leaving to pursue a personal project that she has been deferring for "too long".
The search for a replacement has started but she remains until the end of September to hand over to the new person and to oversee the Beautiful South tasting which takes place in London that month. She was instrumental in conceiving and organising.
Birch has won a raft of awards including the International Wine and Spirit Competition’s Women in Wine Award and UK market analysts, Wine Intelligence, identified her as ‘one of the 10 most influential personalities in the wine world.
Birch has been a pivotal figure in developing the South African wine industry. Eco-sustainable wine production, the “variety is in our nature” stance and the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) that has seen producers set aside substantially more land for conservation than the equivalent of the national vineyard. She was at the forefront of all of them.
She has been one of the major advocates of the country’s Sustainability Seal, the first industry-wide initiative of its kind anywhere in the world, to promote production integrity from the vineyard to the consumer. This was followed by the introduction last year of an Ethical Seal, that confirms the implementation of fair labour practices by wine producers.
According to the WOSA statement, after a brief ‘sabbatical’, Birch plans to focus on the development of cost-effective marketing solutions for a range of industries, from the beginning of next year. She 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. 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.
"I shall be leaving WOSA 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," said Birch