21 September 2017

South Africa: From the Gracious Heights of Our Fine Wine Industry to the Badlands of the Poor and Starving


Not everyone who participates in the world of Cape wine is a recreational consumer of the fruits of our vineyards: there are other consumers, living in communities where hope for a better life has long ago faded into the gloom of despair, and where alcohol - cheap wine, and cheaper so-called ales - as well as tik and nyaope are used to block out the vista of desperation extending endlessly into the future. If the industry wishes to transform this labour from a burden borne with resentment to a career of choice, it must come with skills development and the prospect of skilled labour rates and job satisfaction.

In June 2005 the proprietors of the estates which were rated and ranked in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its publication. I was fortunate enough to be invited to the party, which was hosted at Chateau d'Yquem. This was not a modest gathering: the Bordeaux Cru Classe estates were in the midst of a seemingly endless boom, with a string of decent vintages going back a decade, and nature delivering wines of legend just when they were required for the millennium. Primeur prices for...

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