Monday, March 30, 2009

Driving In Constantia Sunday, March 15th, 2009 ( Starting Impromptu Tasting @ GROOT CONSTANTIA ) With John Morrison, Of Boutique Vineyards Imports

John Morrison and I were having a great day so far this Sunday, March 15th, 2009 in Cape Town, Sugar Loaf Mountain and after lunch by the beach at Blues restaurant and now around 5 PM we pass the winery GROOT CONSTANTIA and John asks me if I would like to taste some wine?

Am I not in the wine business now for the last thirty years? Did we not come to South Africa to taste South African wines? Is GROOT CONSTANTIA not the first winery ever in the whole of the southern hemisphere?!? Of course I wanted to taste some wine. I think even John wanted to taste some wine. He and his wife Theresa do not represent the wines of GROOT CONSTANTIA but he used to buy them years ago.

John even had a story of how because the availability of some of them was so low years ago that he would have to get up early in the morning and come on the first official day of the wine's release out here to the winery and wait like everybody else, patiently in line so that he might purchase one case of a wine where they may have only been several hundred cases produced that year.

I was simply curious to see this, the first ever winery built and producing wines years way back in the southern hemisphere. What would I think? Being government-owned now would I find the wines still in keeping with their grand history and past glory? Only one way to find out and that was to taste them. So John parked and in we went. There was no argument on either of our parts.

It was impressive this large, art filled, spacious tasting room that spread out into different areas in this rather large space. We headed right to the back and to our right and stood there before a nice lady and inquired about how one went about tasting the wines? She patiently, cheerfully explained with a big smile on her face how it worked to us. The first glass or two was on the house but if you wanted to taste more there were three or flour flights I believe. At that point John moved away and I introduced myself, presented my card and told here where I was from. She smiled brightly and said that that changed the whole thing and that we could try whatever we liked. We did, too except for the sparkling wine which was all gone and at closing-time as it was they were unprepared to open another bottle. We understood. The tasting was a grand start to my first time in Africa/ South Africa. I was beginning to really enjoy myself as I knew I would. But I will blog more about this tasting later as I add the other pictures that I have.

This blog is more about that late afternoon/early evening driving in Constantia and seeing how beautiful it was, especially as the sun started to set and then later as it bid us all adieu as we approached Cape Town once again. We were invited to have a barbecue that they call a braii or is it braai there with John's daughter, her husband and one of his two sons. I was being made to feel comfortable and at home from the very start and I liked this very much.

Most of these pictures I took while John was driving and talking about all this area that he had grown up in and lived for most of his life. His passion, knowledge, concern and love ( as well as deep-rooted pride ) rang true with every word, syllable and expression that he uttered pretty much nonstop as he drove. He kept saying how much fun it would be to do this or do that as we drove if we only had more time. I kept focused just on how much fun I was having ( as well as how much I was learning, witnessing, sharing, glimpsing, gleaning, gathering ) from each and every moment that I was there. That's why I took so many pictures : I was a bit excessive about this but I figured that I would be able to relive and even more appreciate everything later looking back on this week experience in South Africa with John Morrison from March 15h through March 21st, 2009. There is only so much one person can absorb and pictures do help to bring back certain memories and help later flesh them out.

I love the photos I took of the setting sun, the light and the rays of sun cutting the air and the shadows and new spaces created are so mesmerizing and calming. I also love the picture of the house with the beautiful white Dutch classic style to it as well as the green grass field with the indigenous birds there that John told me the name of but which I cannot recollect now. What are they called again John? I also love the pink roses in front of the row of vines in that picture : as well as all the other pictures with grape vines in them - just make me feel all the more at home.

There's also a picture that I quickly snapped when John told me that he believed it was one of Nelson Mandela's houses. Is it one of his?

I also love how the mountains or hills here buffer and protect, cradle even Constantia and all the vines and the homes, vineyards and life. I like that thought a whole lot. I also liked how the shapes of the vines as a whole or broken down from row to row take on interesting forms. The individual rows look almost like ghosts or apparitions with the setting sun that could so easily have come straight from one of the scenes in the Lord Of The Rings! Good forces of course, nurturing one indeed... not the bad ones ...

Some of the pictures I took just because back home here in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area I like certain things like flowers, ornamental grasses like you see down in North Carolina's Outer Banks, squirrels, etcetera. So bear with me and enjoy whatever brings you pleasure. Oh, the kitten belongs to John's daughter and husband. Who does not like a kitten? That's universal I say.

I did eat some ostrich sausage steaming hot right off the grill this night that Pierre grilled for us all. It was excellent. Thanks guys for your hospitality and making me feel welcome and at home on my second evening in South Africa.

Cheers, TONY

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