At the end of a week filled with doom and gloom for SA wine, with commentators calling the industry in decline, a glimpse at a rosy future peaked from behind ominous rain clouds this evening on the roof of a shopping mall in suburban Gugulethu. Ticket sales stopped at 7pm, two hours early, with the tented venue full: “one heck of a way to start a wine show” said Ray Edwards, liquor executive from Tops at Spar and headline sponsor of the event.
A far younger, more exotic and better dressed capacity crowd than that which fronts up at the increasingly tired wine shows in Sandton and Cape Town (that look increasingly more supermarket retail than wine showcase) sampled some of the kiefest brands on the scene: Naughty Girl bubbly from Alvi’s Drift, Chapel Red – pronounced “shapel” – from Robertson Winery which sells 100 000 cases a year in Langa and Gugs and the Wolftrap from Boekenhoutskloof, at R40 a bottle, the cheapest Swartland Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier blend in town.
The joke of the afternoon happened when Paul Cluver was photographed for the social pages. Asked for his name, Paul pushed over a bottle of his toothsome 2010 Pinot Noir and he was duly recorded as Paul Cluver Elgin, his surname replaced by his appellation.
“Nederburg and Tops at Spar made it happen” said Sharon Cooper from Hot Salsa Media, the spicy Pietermaritzburg-based media shop that arranged the event along with the team from the Soweto Wine Festival. “I told Mzoli (Ngcawuzele from the eponymous African braai restaurant and co-founder of the event) we would sit this one out and see how it went” said John Faure from Vergenoegd “but we’ll be in next year, for sure.” Joining Creation, Rustenberg, Groot Constantia, Oak Valley, Overhex, Paul Cluver, Spier, Spar, Solms-Delta and a whole mixed case of Distell brands bringing the Bacchanalian boodskap to a whole new party of potential consumers.