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Wine regions are like vines. The more they struggle, the greater the reward. And let’s not beat about the bush, both South Africa and its wine industry endures more than its fair share of struggles. Apart from decades spent in the wilderness during apartheid, the country is riven by inequality where ramshackle, no-go townships spread for miles whilst armed guards protect hilltop mansions. Crime and violence are never far away. Then there is the seemingly unshakable stigma and prejudice towards the country from overseas, the ridiculing of Pinotage, and its trenchant inability to attract premiums for much of its wine, hence marginal profits and numerous wineries privately for sale on the market. Also consider a chaotic government that is apathetic towards the wine industry, at worst regarded as an unnecessary privilege of the minority white population, evidenced just as I was filing this report by the demise of Solms-Delta.

The truth is that Cape is one of the most mind-bogglingly beautiful landscapes you will ever visit, where jagged mountains soar up to heavens and cascade into oceans; fynbos-covered hillsides are home to startling flora and fauna. There is poverty and inequality. Yet, visit a winery and so often you see how the industry benefits the local community irrespective of skin colour, providing not just stable jobs for pickers, but homes, schools and hospitals. Yes, there is crime if you look for it, however I have rarely met such friendly and joyous people as in South Africa. The Cape is a visceral, unforgettable experience. Every single person whose feet have touched South African soil returns with shattered preconceptions and a desire to return as soon as possible. Maybe it is my job to shatter the preconceptions attached to the wines.

I reiterate my claim that no country, no wine region has been as dynamic, progressive or indeed, as exciting as South Africa….