Tuesday, December 22, 2015

You can’t really pursue happiness # 1

Same as you can’t really pursue love - for the simple reason that it normally finds you when you’re doing other stuff. Importantly, you must be open to find it, know its voice, and be prepared to stop whatever you’re so busy with and digress to follow it.  Then in a heartbeat your eyes will brighten up and you’ll sing along to:
“You can reach me by caravan
Across the desert like a Arab man
I don’t care how you get here
Just get here if you can.”

What has all this got to do with wine you ask? Well, in my mind good wine starts before you actually pour it. First you get into a relaxed vibe and chill. You, whites and reds too. Assemble great company and scrumptious food. Then let the conversation flow. In doing so comes wonderfully romantic moments, and momentous philosophical thoughts. But at least fill up your glass before we tackle these serious issues.

“I’d much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size zero.” Sofia Loren
This is the basis of my wine philosophy. Follow your intuition. Enjoy life!
“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Encourage someone else in following their dream, supporting them all the way. Congratulate them when they’ve achieved their goal, spreading their good news story for their benefit.

“I don’t know what your future has in store, but what I do know is that you will only be really happy if you have sought and found how to serve.” Dr. Albert Schweitzer
When you lose yourself in helping others, you will be amazed at the joy and warmth you feel inside you.

“Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.” Leo Tolstoy
Carpe Diem! Home is always there, yet you are here, now. Make the time to give her an extra long hug, whispering into her ear, “I love you”.

“Rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.” Immanuel Kant
No man is an island. We are created for a purpose and formed as social beings, living constantly in the hope to be found worthy.

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller
It used to take me forever to close a door, but lately I’ve become very attentive and now even see a door open on the side at ever such a slight crack, just before the main door in front of me shuts with a clang.

“My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations.” Michael J. Fox
Accept yourself as you are, accept those around you, including the so-called bad news just delivered, and move on. Rest assured that new opportunities and some wonderful lessons will come from this.

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.” Dr. Dale Carnegie
Be happy inside your own skin. Truly love and admire yourself. You are special and you are loved by the Creator.

“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Giving of yourself is really what counts – your time, your memories, your expertise, and your take on living in peace and harmony.  Share these authentically and in humbleness.

“Faith makes you happy.” Dr. Henry Cloud
Isaiah 52: 7 says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"”

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” Dr. Albert Schweitzer
Whatever harsh circumstances prevailed, it is always the love, the laughter, and the fun that is remembered.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole road, just take the first step.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Take heart even in doing what you fear. It will soon pass once you act. Not only that, but having shown the courage to make that phone call, write that note, confront someone, you will be absolutely thrilled with pride, flowing over into a deep inner peace.

So there you have it, some thoughts over a glass or two of excellent wine. But don’t let me stop you in your pursuit, or not…

“You can reach me” by Anita Baker
Giulio Bertrand, Morgenster Estate – Sofia Loren quote
“Wat gelukkige mense weet…” Dr. Jannie le Roux ©2014 Carpe Diem Media – other quotes

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Creating a legacy

How do you go about creating a legacy? Something substantial that will outlast your lifetime? You can write that book, star in a movie, sing on stage, become a sports star… While there are a myriad ways with each person having his own views according to their God-given talents, one surefire way could be to create your own successful private brand.

But similar to each of those other fields, this road also has no guarantee of success when you start out. In fact, as all successful entrepreneurs will testify to, creating a new brand is filled with trials and tribulations along every step of the way. Meaning that getting over the first hurdle does not automatically get you to the finish line. And this is actually only the gateway to get your product into the market and onto the shelves.

So why bother? Well, ask anyone who has ever achieved any degree of success. Or rather, look at the enthusiasm and confidence that emanates from them. Then most likely you’ll want something of the same. But first of all you’ll need a great desire to achieve despite all the odds stacked against you. And achieving does not always have to be about you. What about the guy who goes full out to give back from all the blessings that he’s received in life?
Just be very sure that in all instances it is incredible hard work to reach that pinnacle and you’ll need a good team to support you along the way. See building a brand as a lifelong journey – separate from yours and with a life of its own, sometimes actually much more exciting. So take time to acknowledge and celebrate each milestone achieved. Then before you know it, that little brand has grown and stands proudly on its own feet on the world stage. This is of course time to have a great party. But also the time when you should recognize in gratitude all those around you and contemplate whereto from here? Am I there yet? Is my job done yet? Where to next?

FMS has been fortunate to be part of several teams this year that created some very innovative wine brands. Each has its own distinct character, target market, purpose and vision. Let’s salute those brave men who dared to step out of their comfort zones, and in creating something unique took the bold steps to each give birth to a new international brand.

The Full Fifteen Africans Malbec 2013 – Denmark 
Africa Promise Chardonnay Sauvignon Blanc 2015 &
Africa Promise Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2015 - USA & SA www.AfricaPromiseWines.com
Jacques du Mont Vinho Espumante Premium  - Bolivia, Brazil & Angola

With the wines now all dressed up and some already in the market, the next step for these brand owners and FMS as facilitator is to grow these wine brands into a legacy, introducing it into new countries with careful planning.

Photo credits: 
Incisioni Grafica Pubblicita & Jacques Germanier - Africa Promise Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2015
Peter Rimell Photography – The Full Fifteen Africans 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

La vie est belle, n'est-ce pas? # 2

Make someone feel special, today. This should be your personal goal every morning, even before getting out of bed. And what’s the bottom-line return for you? It could be a wonderful warm feeling when experiencing their heartfelt thanks; even if it’s just a smile, a nod of acknowledgement, or a salute. That’s enough to fill up my emotional tank. And it need not be from someone close to you. It feels as great when dishing goodness out to random strangers.

Moreover, once you realise that the world doesn’t revolve around you, but most things depend on teamwork, you’ve come a long way. And a team can be just two of you. What a blissful feeling when you’ve achieved or experienced something special together. You’re sharing these moments that bond you together. Cherish it.

As you know, despite the most well laid out plans, life happens. It’s then that your character comes to the fore, when you act almost instinctively. Let this be to your credit. The saying, “May you live in interesting times” can be taken as a blessing or as a curse. It’s exactly these unexpected deviations that make the world’s difference, even if you don’t think it is so profound at the time.

Mostly such magic occurs on the spur of the moment. Like when I push Sophie to write a letter to a company in Paris, saying that she’s been in South Africa, done the research, and am ready to launch.
A ½ hour later her screen is still blank and she tells me. “I can’t get started. I don’t know what to write.” So I come and sit next to her saying, “Right, let’s do this thing.” An hour later she says, “Good, let’s send it.” “No, not yet, let’s read through it again.” We both make many small changes and it’s high-fives when she presses the send key.

It can also take patience and persistence to get things rolling smoothly. A client from China is supposed to visit the Cape in June. This gets postponed to July, then to August, and finally it becomes a planning nightmare as the visit rolls over from week to week, and later from day to day. To my surprise, Kuban calls me one mid-morning saying “Henry is here, we’ll see you in an hour.”

Busy with other stuff, I’m in a flat spin. We talk about everything except the business at hand. Despite Henry not drinking alcohol, he is a great collector and the two of us spend an exciting hour unearthing vintages from 1999 onward from every nook and cranny. Settling down afterwards with a drink, we finally get onto the topic of visiting the wineries...
Mariella's Restaurant
Henry and I spend two cloudy but stimulating days in the Winelands. The first day is in the Swartland with vistas of green and gold from fields of wheat, lucerne and canola. It includes a lovely lunch at Mariella’s, followed by a cellar tour filled with the biggest collection of French casks in the Southern hemisphere.
Capaia cellar
When Henry sees a handful of Capaia 2007 Jéroboam gift boxes, he promptly buys one, ending the day on a perfect note.

The next day we’re on a tight schedule starting in Stellenbosch and moving over to Paarl. Thanks to Henry’s Porche we comfortably keep to the programme and even have time to admire the exquisite artworks at Cavalli, and the numerous cheeses at Fairview, before stopping for another great lunch at Sonop.

Here another surprise awaits. It’s like déjà vu with a difference. Switching to French, M. Jacques Germanier and I catch up on a rendez-vous d’affaires of some years before. In turn, Henry is very impressed with the Swiss precision put in place since 1991. A few things definitely get lost in the translation, but fortunately Sophie Germanier, in charge at Sonop, comes discreetly to my aid.
Jacques Germanier wine range
It’s close to five on a Friday, and no self-respecting winery’s management is still open for business, but our mission is not yet complete. Coaxing a late meeting out of Michela, she tells me, “Ok, but the order has to be big! ;-)” When we arrive there’s no-one to be seen, but the table is filled with wine glasses and a framed certificate. Looking around, Henry points to the kitchen. Michela comes out bright-eyed and all smiles, inviting us in. Attilio and the kids follow.  Excitedly, Michela explains the reason for the certificate and trophy on the table.
Attilio & Michela with Absa Top 10
Ayama Pinotage 2013
After a photo or two Michela wants to start the tasting but Henry says, “No, just give me samples, that’s enough. I will pay.” Michela retorts with, “With pleasure, but you can’t pay for it. It’s samples.” 

And a short while later we’re on our way home. Heading due West, I think...

Photo credits:-
Anton Blignault – Attilio  & Michela with ABSA Top 10 Pinotage Trophy & Certificate
Capaia Wines - Mariella's Restaurant & wine cellar
Jacques Germanier - wine range

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

La vie est belle, n'est-ce pas?

When do you say “Life is good, isn’t it?” Is it when having sufficient money to provide in excess of your needs? Could it be that you’re most happy when you’ve achieved a major goal? Or would it be simply enough to share a superb meal with good wine and great friends? My take is: Today is special, use it well. It only comes once, so use every opportunity in creating a unique occasion, making some lasting memories along the way to the sky.
Cape Town harbour
Sure, I know that it’s important to strive to achieve your full potential. But this, like most things, is a life-long quest. What’s necessary is to appreciate the small milestones along the way and to share this fully in the moment with your loved ones in total delight of life worth savouring. Recently I’ve had the good fortune to do a lot of sharing – of excellent wines, sparkling wines and terrific food coupled with many jokes and laughter. To me, this is a day well spent and worth remembering.

It started with me phoning Sophie in a panic, saying that I’ve got clients from the US here in an hour and I need help. She laughs, saying. “Ok, see you just now I guess.” We get off to a rocky start when many wines have Merlot in it – which Yolonda detests. But all ends well later when she and Enoch are in awe of the city’s lights from Signal Hill.

Jacques Germanier Brut Millésimé 2010
Two days later we set out for a tour to two cellars in the Voor Paardeberg Region, clustered around a mountain inhabited by baboons and leopards. Yolonda loves the organic and Fairtrade concepts, but does not approve of dry wines, so when Jaco adds “a touch of sugar” in the form of grape fructose the day is saved. Afterwards we move on to a 3-course lunch starting with Jacques Germanier Brut Millésimé 2010 around a crackling log fire. It is followed by many tales from Enoch on life in South Africa, countered by the two Sophies – our host from Switzerland and our guest from France.

Next we go around the mountain and meet up with the Sfiligoi Italian family, producing wonderful wines since 2005. Attilio regales us with tales of baboons, their love for grapes and their penchant for throwing stones at the children and the farm workers.
Some weeks before I found myself in the golden wine triangle in Stellenbosch at a wine estate fit for a princess and her knight. Having previously tasted their 7-varietal flagship Warlord 2009 red blend which won 2 gold medals, I'm still astounded by the luxury. The entrance has a magnificent statue of a horse, with vast paddocks dedicated to each stud horse. I mistake their stables and training arena as a hotel. Craig takes me to the cellar across the road where we taste exquisite  individual components of the 2015 white,  Bordeaux and Rhône blends which include barrel fermented Verdelho, Viognier, Chardonnay,  Chenin Blanc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Grenache and Syrah.

The Full Fifteen Africans Malbec 2013

Sophie and I take to the road again early one Friday to collect and deliver wine labels for Denmark, but setting up two tastings at cellars outside Darling. With Christopher leading the way we clamber up and down metal ladders, tasting the best of the 2015 harvest, including amazing Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, several Shiraz blocks to be blended later, ending with the premium Lynchpin, a Cabernet Franc Merlot blend.

Some weeks later Jeanine, the winemaker just across the road from Craig, stops at the office to drop off red bulk wine samples. It is not until another three weeks pass that I finally taste these three blends, only to be blown away by the quality of the Merlot based 2011 dry red blend – incredible value!

Little joys can come seemingly at the most inopportune times and in the most surprising ways. It’s up to us to recognize this magical moment and have the courage to digress from our well-laid out plans to fill it up with a little bit of heaven…

Photo credits:-
Anton Blignault - Cape Town harbour
Peter Rimell Photography - The Full Fifteen Africans

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Private Label Project # 2

With FMS creating its Private Label Division in 2014, it has finally come into its own during 2015.

The successful launch of Skipper’s (2nd brand of New Beginnings) in 2014 led us to develop a private label for a client in Côte d’Ivoire (OloPam Nest). Focusing on Private Label Projects since January, it brought in three orders in quick succession from clients in Kenya (ADUA), Denmark (The Full Fifteen Africans) and Bolivia. This is for both still and sparkling wines with quantities ranging from one pallet to a 20’ container. With another three in progress to China and the USA (Africa Promise & Freedom Wines), FMS is becoming quite expert in sourcing wines for specific target markets – all within budget and deadline.
La principale raison du succès is that FMS provides a full turn-key service to you as client - choosing wine from barrel, tank or unlabelled bottles, negotiating with several wineries, providing you a quality wine at best price, and labelling these on schedule. Some clients prefer to handle their own design, while we can advise you on international design contests or using our appointed designer. All labels are printed locally using a trusted associate.

FMS verifies that cellars we propose consistently produce wine of excellent quality, rated independently. The wines can be part of the cellar’s regular range, or we can create a specific blend, style, or varietal to fit your brief. Dependant on volume, you can choose the bottle type, closure and capsule colour. Production lead time is 2 to 6 weeks. Price depends on quality, volume, varietal/s, vintage and region. We will quote you FOB Cape Town, plus handling the full logistical export process to include the CIF destination port of your choice.
La Rue Mouffetard, Paris 1954
At first we need a clear direction to establish: what styles would suit your target market, quantities (840 to 13,200 bottles), launch date, price and quality levels. This wish list is modified into a final brief once we’ve done internal market research on your chosen market. Next, we will access a wine industry B2B website to ensure that we discover and taste all the best options according to these criteria. Chosen samples will be provided free FOB Cape Town, with courier costs for your account.

Brands that we developed for Bolivia are targeted to compete directly against market leaders in their respective categories, namely sparkling wine and apple cider. The product image must compete at a specific price level, using a designated marketing strategy for your target market. We can recommend several options for US clients that require an importer to take care of regulations such as product and label compliance, importation, warehousing and distribution to various states, charging task-based fees. It includes managing the COLA and TTB process to achieve federal regulatory compliance.

FMS can request a graphic design specialist to quote on label, logo and brand name design according to your brief. Apart from essential design elements, the creation of the label is considered in terms of its market position while contextualising your brand’s story. It is a project fee-based task. Regardless of who you use as designer, FMS provides guidance with label approval on technical aspects such as mandatory items, health warnings, importer details and barcodes. FMS has connections with several trademark attorneys and can advise you on these, including foreign translation services.

Label printing is cleared when we receive the SAWIS approval certificate. Labels are printed digital, flexo or litho, depending on quality and quantity. If required, magnetic label dies has a 48-hour lead time. Label printing costs depends on size, quantity, paper and is quoted in full sets. Paper stock is dictated by the brand’s image and wine type. Lead time for design and printing ranges from 2 to 4 weeks. Branded cartons are an important marketing tool. Printing of these can be done at a nominal cost and depends on volume, design and colour. There is a once-off cost for the design stereo.

Once production or labelling is set up we can ask the relevant WOSA country market manager for advice on a launch strategy, potential clients, and creating additional media awareness. FMS could also publish an article in the Wine Marketing Services blog, add it to the FMS website and create ads for the brand on two B2B portals where FMS is registered, providing your contact details.

Due to the correct brief being critical for the wine search and label design, we will guide you on both. We don’t compromise on quality at any step along this exciting journey. With FMS providing you with a cost-effective, turn-key private label solution, you can capitalise on these synergies and expertise in place to launch your own brand, directing your own future.
wine civilization
Photo credits: Thinkstock, Robert DOISNEAU, FMS & Coralie FLANDRE

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Live a little # 2

"Love, like faith, is irrational", someone once said. Both require tremendous trust. Sharing values, and perhaps loving similar music, is the glue that somehow makes a relationship work. Build on these bricks to put that sparkle in you and your loved ones’ eyes.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein
“La vie en rose.” Edith Piaf
Choose the latter. By seeing everything through rose-tinted glasses your life will be transformed into a daily thanksgiving; living in gratitude whatever the circumstances at that point might be.

“Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Live it!” Mabale Moloi from “Destiny” September 2009
Use what you’ve got. Your dreams start to become real when you believe them.

“Life’s a journey and it’s up to you to do your best to enjoy the ride.” Bridgette Modise from “Destiny” September 2009
The first five minutes in the morning and your first appointment is critical to set the tone for your whole day.  Use your opportunities, each and every one that comes along! Expect not to stick rigidly to the plan because the deviations will make your life so much richer. Just don’t get lost in the forest!

“Work is love made visible.” Kahlil Gibran
Do what you do with passion and it will show – in your results, your business relationships, your soul. It is amazing how your self-worth increases when you feel needed and when you have achieved a goal.

“Persistence + Love = Abundance” Anonymous
Love yourself first. You can’t give what you haven’t got. Pursue peace both around you and within you.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Ursula Strydom
Indeed! Those few who act on their dreams consistently rise to the top of society in whatever sphere their passion lies.
"Anyone who says only sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain." Anonymous 
It is exactly in these moments when you have nothing left to lose. If then you let go of everything that mentally holds you back you will make a miraculous breakthrough; much to the surprise of everyone around you, including yourself.

“Forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile.” Audrey Hepburn
Do these things every single day and you will truly live a remarkable life. A caution though: it only works if you live fully in the present, forget the past and don’t have any concerns for the future.

So, stick to the moment and embrace every interaction as a once-off unique opportunity to shine your light. You’ll be thrilled to bits with the results, and so will those around you – with you!

Photo credits: Anton Blignault

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Live a little # 1

“Hope springs eternal” is an idiom from Alexander Pope’s poem, “Essay on Man” which is a basic truism of life. Wake up each morning with a smile on your face; stepping out with a spring in your step and facing the world filled with hope and love.

“Dance. Love. Sing. Live.” Audrey Hepburn
Be an entertainer at heart. Not just for the sake of those around you, but equally to lift up your own spirits. In short, enjoy life, you only live once.

“Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale.” Hans Christian Anderson
See life through the eyes of a child. Don’t ever completely lose that innocence, that naivety, that sense of wonder and belief in the impossible that a child has.

“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.” Antonio Smith
Aunt Sienie told me that very same thing quite often. It is those small acts of kindness that builds the bond between two people and fosters an ingrained value system that will steer you automatically through any crisis.

“Happiness is not in getting what you want, but in wanting what you have.” Anonymous
“Having the best things is no substitute for having the best life.” Oprah Winfrey
What you’re really looking for is inside you. Take a few deep breaths, turning your attention inside yourself. You don’t need to be “fixed” - that is looking from the outside. Notice simple, concrete things: the beautiful sunset, the rise and fall of your stomach as you breathe. In short, be grateful.

“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey
You get what you focus on. Do yourself the favour and focus only on the positive.

“We are what we repeatedly do.” Aristotle
This is a basic human principle which is highly underrated. It is those small everyday acts that builds up in layers and grows into a way of life. Just make sure that you choose the high road. 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
Have the courage to take that first step, write that first line, make that call, saying those words that are burning inside you… It will not only change your life, but also all of those people that you touch on your journey.

“Our attitude towards life determine life’s attitude towards us.” Earl Nightingale
 “Stop grumbling. When you complain you remain. Praise and be raised.” Joyce Myers
Little changes have big results. You’re going to develop what you focus on.

Now go out and get them! And have yourself a marvelous, delightful, blessed day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

South Africa’s wine heritage

With ProWein 2015 opening in Düsseldorf on the Ides of March I have been reflecting on South Africa’s wine heritage.

Siobhan Thompson, WOSA CEO, said recently ‘South Africa's wine reputation is at an all-time high, with taste makers who have recently visited our shores like Jancis Robinson MW, Tim Atkin MW, Andrew Jefford and Neal Martin praising our creativity, originality and quality. When Neal Martin wrote at the end of last year in his report on the country: "South Africa is the most dynamic and exciting New World country at the moment," he was expressing a view shared by more and more influential critics.”’
With the Dutch arriving at the Cape on 6 April 1652 the South African wine industry started on 2 February 1659 when Jan van Riebeeck, first Governor of the Cape, wrote in his journal “Today, praise be to God, wine was pressed for the first time from Cape Grapes.” Evidently the vines must have come from somewhere else. In 1654 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) sent Van Riebeeck vine cuttings from Rheingau, Germany. These vines didn’t propagate since the damp sail cloth damaged their root system. During 1655 more cuttings arrived from Bohemia, the Canary Islands, France, Germany and Spain. Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains from France were successful; including Muscat d’Alexandrie, known locally as Hanepoot.
The famous dessert wine, Grand Constance served to the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at St Helena Island and other royalty such as King Louis Philippe of France and Frederick the Great of Prussia, was crafted from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains at Groot Constantia. This 750 ha estate (a grant 15 times larger than the VOC’s provision) was secured by Simon van der Stel, the Cape’s second Governor in 1685. It was later subdivided into three units. This year heralds 330 years of uninterrupted winemaking on the estate. Since my arrival in the Cape I’ve spent many memorable hours on the estate marketing the wines to our client in Belgium, amongst others. On one such occasion Anne-Sophie and I were driving back to town when she tells me, “I’m surprised that you asked Boela so many questions. You don’t know it? The winemaking process seems quite essential to me.” That remark put me on the road towards my studies at the Cape Wine Academy.
Here is a more recent encounter of the South African wine history. Our family is really passionate about wine. With me being in the wine trade I pride myself in keeping everyone up to date. And of course whenever I fly up to Johannesburg to visit, it is taken for granted that I take along a case of wines. And wanting to impress them I carefully choose a case of mostly red wines with vintages dating back 7 to 10 years.

But on this occasion Pierre discovered several old vintage wines when packing their household goods. He decided to serve these at a lamb spit braai the day before he and his family flew home. Two prized possessions were a Chateau Libertas Superior 1980 1.5L magnum and a Simonsvlei Pinotage Superior 1985 1.5L magnum. And not just for being so old. These were given to him by my dad when he received his BSc and Honours degrees.
Chateau Libertas was launched in 1932 and is the creation of Dr William Charles Winshaw, the founder of Stellenbosch Farmers Wineries. It is a Cabernet-based blend, wood-matured and designed for immediate enjoyment but with sufficient maturation potential for many years to come.  

Pierre enjoys sharing and as his custom he invited 20 plus family members to join him to commemorate these occasions plus my dad’s passing away in 2010. I was not there as I flew back to Cape Town the week before.  Pierre told me afterwards that although some wine leaked out, the Chateau Libertas 1980 tasted absolutely superb, like velvet with black fruits on the nose and palate. The Simonsvlei Pinotage 1985 was smooth with plums on the nose and berries on the palate.
To track back one generation, Pinotage was created at Stellenbosch University in 1925 by Prof. Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticuture. Perold was attempting to combine the best qualities of the robust Hermitage with Pinot Noir, planting four seeds from the cross in the garden of his official residence.  In 1927 he left the university, forgetting about the seedlings. When a team came in to tidy up, Charlie Niehaus a lecturer who knew about the seedlings, happened to pass by and rescued the young plants. Prof. CJ Theron at Elsenburg Agricultural College, Prof. Perold’s successor, grafted them in 1935 onto Richter 99 and Richter 57 rootstock. The best one was selected for propagation and christened Pinotage. During 1941 the first Pinotage wine was made at Elsenburg. Planting Pinotage since 1953, Bellevue Estate won the champion trophy at the 1959 Cape Wine Show; while Lanzerac Wine Estate was the first to commercialise Pinotage in 1961 with a 1959 Pinotage.

South Africa has 356 years experience of producing excellent wines and this is ample proof that our red wines can age 30 to 35 years with grace. Let us make you a part of this success story.

References: Cape Wine Academy, Groot Constantia Estate, Distell Ltd, Platter’s 2015 South African Wine Guide, Simonsvlei International, WikipediA, WOSA (Wines of South Africa).

Photo credits: Anne-Sophie DUBUS, Annelie Blignaut

Friday, February 13, 2015

It’s never too late for a New Beginning # 2

It’s never too late to start again. In fact, each new day is the perfect new beginning (Psalm 118: 24). You can turn things around. Take that first step! This is part two.

If I can see it, then I can do it. If I just believe it, there's nothing to it… If I can see it, then I can be it. If I just believe it, there's nothing to it.” ‘I believe I can fly’ by R. Kelly
Have a dream. Define the goal and outcome. Use all your senses – see, hear, feel, smell, taste. Contextualise it – where, when, with whom, how often, what circumstances. Be decisive. Make a decision, else you’ll lose the opportunity. Act on it. Now!
“Miracles come in CANS!”
Have a can-do attitude. Live with the belief that you can handle whatever comes your way.

“Always act as if it was impossible to fail, and God will see you through.” Elena Zelayeta in ‘The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking’ by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
Have the inner conviction that what you start you will finish, albeit with some help from above.

“In all you do, explore all avenues and test limitations.” Isobel April in “Destiny” December 2008
Attack each difficulty with confidence and an optimistic attitude. Focus on what’s right, not what’s wrong. State what you want to achieve positively.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23: 7 KJV
“Human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” William James
Conditions are created by thoughts. Start thinking differently. Give yourself a makeover – from the inside!  Challenge your set ideas and do a spring-cleaning of the mind. Be prepared to learn from anyone – young and old.

“Today is gonna be the day… Because maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me…” ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis
Once you forget about yourself and focus on doing something for someone else, real magic starts to happen. And best of all, you will rise with the tide and will be doubly blessed. Believe that something good is going to happen to you today.

“ You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis
Age is entirely dependant on your mindset, not your actual age. In short, as long as you’re planning eagerly for the future with scant regard for the past, then you’re in the right league. Dream on, then do!

“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream. Not only plan but also believe.” Anonymous
You need to believe in yourself to succeed and have a burning desire to turn that vision into reality.
Each time when you and your loved ones enjoy a special time together, see it as a celebration of love and life – a new beginning to be enjoyed in the present; with no dark clouds of the past or the future clouding your happiness. Chin!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It’s never too late for a New Beginning # 1

 Take that second chance! Be the comeback kid. You can begin again. You can rebuild your life! Here is part one.

 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 KJV
“Turn! Turn! Turn!” by Pete Seeger
Know when it is your time to step up and shine. Then take that bow and go on to do great things!
“The winds of grace blow all the time – all we need to do is set our sails.” Ramakrishna
It is only when I am still and completely relaxed that I get my brightest inspirations. Then I can embrace the winds with my focus on the task at hand so intense that everything else around me loses traction.

“Take risks… If you win, you will be happy. If you loose, you will be wise.” Debby Witter
Be bold. Claim the victory before you start. Take responsibility. When you’re wrong, say you’re sorry - immediately.

“Play without fear of failure. When no one gives you a chance you may as well give it your best shot. Just relax the shackles and play with freedom. Just express yourself.” Herschelle Gibbs (175 runs from 111 balls) in world record 438 runs ODI (One Day International) win by South African Proteas against Australia on 12 March 2006
Enough said!

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.” Thoreau
The secret of achievement is to hold a picture of a successful outcome in mind. Start only once you have envisioned the victorious end result. Then forget about the difficulties in-between.

“It’s an attitude. A decision you make. A confidence.” Anonymous

Believe that you will always make the right decision. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but acting in the midst of fear. Just pace yourself and tackle each obstacle as it comes. 
“Never, never, never, never give up!” Sir Winston Churchill, 1941
Keep on keeping on. Don’t give up. Ever. Don’t quit. Ever. Doubt your doubt. Take it one step at a time. Devise an action plan with dates and steps. Find out what resources you need in terms of skills, people, time, and money.
And how do you celebrate your new beginning? I’m biased of course, but believe there’s nothing better than sharing a glass of Champagne with your loved ones. Or else a glass of New Beginnings wine will do rather well. But do this realizing that each get-together is a unique once-off experience. Cherish it each time!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rules to ride by # 2

Now let’s not stop at the first hurdle. Take a deep breath, be innovative, and rise up with the momentum of the horse; or your project… Here is part 2.

Use what you’ve got
“Make the most of what you have got.” Dr Murray Banks
Ask advice and search inside yourself for ideas, courage, and wisdom.  Talk to someone close to you whom you can trust, when you're not sure what next to do.
About to fly off to ProWein in Düsseldorf, Germany I ask a few friends to urgently put me in touch with an instructor. Kathleen comes back to me, “Lana knows about horses and riding. I couldn’t answer her questions. Call her.”
Do the work
Try harder.” Anonymous
Nothing worthwhile is easy or quick. Be prepared to put in lots of effort. Then get stuck into what needs to be done, scheduling your whole project and breaking it up into manageable compartments.
It’s two days before my flight, with the shoot one month after I return. I call Joe: “I’ve arranged classes for six days a week for a full month. Joey-Marie at Paarl Diamant assured me that I’ll be able to do the rising trot by then.”

It’s all about prepping
“Be bold. Be helpful. Be a pleasure. Trust & act on your instinct.” Anton Blignault
Get to where you need to be in good time, and be well prepared. View your meeting / project from your client’s point of view – what would they want to get out of it? Then structure your answers / actions accordingly.
At first I’m a visitor, arriving when my horse is saddled up. But very soon I get to understand that I need to be there in advance of my lesson so that I can saddle up and bridle my own horse. Apart from getting into the mood and relaxing me completely, this becomes such a bonding experience with my horse, and indirectly with my coach.

Get back up
“Failing is a temporary condition; giving up makes it permanent.” Pierre Blignaut
Nothing is plain sailing, expect difficulties and handle it. Try a different approach: focus on other USP’s of your product, - on your POS and promotional programme, change your pricing structure; but don’t give up at the first barrier.
We’re three students in the ring doing jumps. This is a first for me and I’m totally lost. I’m just obeying instructions and letting the horse go, she’s a natural... The girls are experts too, and in front of me. To my right I see a whir of legs up in the air and hear a thud behind me. Everyone stops and Joey-Marie runs to check up on her. She gets up slowly and dusts herself off. “Ok, let’s get you back up there,” Joey-Marie says as she holds the reins.
Et après
“Be consistent. Do what you say. Follow your heart.” Anton Blignault
The meeting’s not over when it’s over. The most important part is your briefing afterwards, concluding your agreement, thanking your client for their time, and ensuring them of looking after their business.
It’s not long before that after my ride I need to take off the saddle, the blanket, the bridle, and brush my horse. This is actually incredibly relaxing, for both me and the horse; she absolutely loves the attention and I get to chat with whomever is around, feeling like a seasoned rider.

Get attitude
“It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.” John Steinbeck
No one will take notice of you if you’re a wimp, neither will you get anywhere. Be sassy. Show some grit.
Céline tells me before our outride, “I’m putting on this helmet; but I have no intention of falling off.”

Laugh at yourself
“Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Anonymous
Take your work seriously, but never forget that you’re fallible and that failure is a necessary part of succeeding.
Our group is at the dam after a long time in the saddle. Joey-Marie’s mom says, “Let’s first stop to give the horses a drink.” We all wade into the water. A co-rider shouts at me as my horse rears up and thrashes with its hoofs, “Watch out! He’s going to go down!” Acting on instinct, I stand on my toes in the stirrups. The horse disappears under the water and I jump off, straddling him. I’m totally soaked up to my knees. With much joking of everyone around me I lead my horse to the shore and remount.
Laugh it off
“It isn’t worth winning if you don’t have to fight for it.” from ‘Cutting Edge 2: Going for the Gold’
You can’t win every account, so expect some hiccups. Cut prices but bargain for extra distribution outlets, increased volume, more shelf space... Listen to your client to know what’s important for him / her and offer that.
Back at the car we have a cold fruit juice before getting in, but Céline doesn’t say a word… I take my soggy boots and socks off, driving back home bare feet. 

Enjoy each moment
“Stay in the moment.” from ‘Cutting Edge 2: Going for the Gold’
Focus on where you’re at and enjoy the process. This is only truly possible when you’re relaxed. It’s only from this vantage point that you’re able to see the whole picture, direct where you need to be going and change course midway when your client’s directive changes.
During all these hours in the saddle I forget about everything else and live in the moment, connecting with my horse and reveling in its rhythm. It’s like a mini-holiday every day. What bliss!

Start all over
“To win, you have to be willing to fail.” from ‘Cutting Edge 2: Going for the Gold’
Strive to win another day. You can’t win every time; else it wouldn’t be a challenge. Accept defeat graciously and move on. You’ve given it your best shot, learned some new tricks, and are groomed for the next project that’s going to turn all the lights on.
After working out very early in the mornings, six days a week for one month and being able to gallop comfortably, I press Joe for a 2nd audition. Finally he comes back to me, “Sorry, I’ve been in Durban. We got a long-distance endurance rider to do the shoot. We’ll be using many different horses and we can’t guarantee how they’ll react.” So now I can gallop without holding on for dear life, and it feels great!

Lately I’ve been thinking… I can act. I can sing. I can dance. Do I first have to be jobless before I can give “The Full Monty” a go? Fortunately a glass or two of wine puts most things in perspective, especially around sunset. What? I’m here on my own! Where have all the girls gone to? Is anyone out there?