Vibey Gugulethu Wine Festival comes tops
ON THE subject of revolutions, Gugulethu (Wine Festival) was the storming of the bottle-store in the Bastille. A tipping point for local wine shows, the importance of which cannot be overstated.
So gushed Neil Pendock, top wine writer and my fellow traveller in the world of wine, after witnessing the vibe from the spectacular crowds attending Cape Town's Gugulethu Wine Festival last year.
Over two days 4,000 people flocked to the festival venue to sample the fermented grape at the rooftop of the Gugulethu Square Mall, which is owned by local businessman Mzoli Ngcawuzele.
Larger-than-life Pendock reckoned the event was the most exciting wine event in the country today - of course, second only to the vibrant Soweto Wine Festival, which last year attracted close on 8,000 wine lovers in two days.
The story of wine appreciation in the townships is something of a wonder. Since 1994, there has been a quiet revolution among black consumers when it comes to wine enjoyment.
This significant trend took some winemakers by surprise, especially the ones initially sceptical about the wisdom (or futility?) of marketing wine to a segment of the population that traditionally enjoys beer, coolers and spirits.
Sadly, snobbery still comes in the way of attempts to bring new enthusiasts onto the fold.
There is - for instance - constant sneering at those who solely enjoy sweet wines. Yet logic dictates that the wine that suits one's palate is the best to enjoy. No amount of coercion or derision can change that.
As often happens with many wine lovers, the sweet wine drinkers will gradually progress to enjoy the more serious wines one day.
As everyone prepares for the whoppee at the TOPS Gugulethu Wine Festival today and tomorrow, this trend of wine appreciation will progress as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow.
There will be more than 250 premier wines to taste, along with food servings by four restaurants which will be offering different cuisines to visitors.
In attendance will also be Master-chef SA judge Pete Goffe-Wood, who will conduct food-and-wine pairing sessions at Nederburg's Taste Theatre at the venue.
Explaining the food theatre concept, Nederburg's Wencke Grobler says: "The taste theatre isn't meant to create more rules surrounding wine; if anything, the aim is the exact opposite. We want wine lovers to free themselves from the burdens of do's and don'ts involved with wine and food matching. All we want is to show how you can enrich the pleasure of the wine you drink by offering you the experience of combining it in a way that brings compatible flavours together."
This year pay-TV station, DStv, has joined as a sponsor.
Busi Msimango of DSTV is just as upbeat: "We are excited to be one of the brands hosting at the second TOPS Gugulethu Wine Festival and we promise to go far and beyond to surround you with entertainment. We raise our glass to Gugulethu and its vibrant people."
A new feature at the festival will be wine lounges hosted JC Le Roux, Pongracz and 4th Street wineries.
Among Cape Town's calendar event, this event is surely to grow to the level of the equally popular international jazz festival which attracts hundreds and is hosted by the city annually.
Yours truly can hardly wait for the touch of Mother City's laid-back ambience untainted by the rat-race streak of Joburg. Tickets cost R80 a person.