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