Let’s lay it out here, cards on the table: winemakers are in it for themselves. They work hard to rise to the top of an incredibly overpopulated red ocean of wine.
Can you blame them? No.
Does it help the bigger cause of uplifting the entire wine industry? Nope.
But like a fresh Atlantic wind sweeping over the rather stagnant industry, we feel change on the horizon.
Can you see it? Can you feel it?
Last week, we attended the #RaucousCaucus – a gathering of wine-minded individuals in the home of a calm country space – Gabrielskloof Wine Farm in Bot River. With a panel led by David Cope, owner of PUBLIK Wine Bar and Distribution, attendees were treated to a discussion consisting of Peter-Allan Finlayson and Donovan Ackermann (of Crystallum and Gabriëlskloof Wines), Marelise Niemann (of Momento Wines) and John Seccombe (of Thorne & Daughters). While topics oscillated between the value of our old vines and international markets, one of the most powerful, walkaway themes of the day was community, and the importance of it within the small wine industry. As Marelise of Momento Wines (TRY HER GRENACHE RIGHT NOW THANKS) rightly said:
“Instead of pushing against each other, we need to stand together – winemakers shouldn’t take themselves so seriously”. We couldn’t agree more.
The Cape Winelands have never had a particularly strong sense of solidarity. Of course, there are examples like the Swartland Young Guns and Stellenbosch Wine Routes making huge strides in community growth, there is no doubt still a long road ahead for a holistic international perception of united winemakers to be developed. This is where things no doubt need to change, the panel argued. Leading by example, they made mention to something that (as fond cat lovers) caught our undivided attention – the Movement of Extreme Overberg Winemakers, otherwise known as MEOW. The idea here is cooperation. It’s about like-minded winemakers supporting each others new-wave wines from old vines and interesting cultivars. “You will not see this in France,” says John Seccombe of Thorne & Daughters. While some winemakers work behind closed cellar doors, MEOW endeavours to share ideas and even vineyards, with John, Peter-Allan and Marelise all producing their wines at Gabriëlskloof cellars.
We got first hand to try some of these selections, including the brand new Part 2 Gabriëlskloof Landscape Series, including a Cabernet Franc 2015, Syrah on Sandstone 2015 and Syrah on Shale 2015. Let’s just say, this community has great taste.