Tuesday, March 31, 2009

HILLCREST Winery in Durbanville, South Africa ( Monday, March 16th, '09 ) With Curly, Wonderful!!

John Morrison ( president/owner of Boutique Vineyards Imports with his wife Theresa ) and I leave Mano's restaurant after having spent a wonderful time with John's two artist friends and lunching really well to head towards Durbanville and winery HILLCREST and his good friend Curly Read. I was feeling no pain and relaxed and happy and contented and snapping away with many pictures.

I thought that these pictures would make a great slide show and I even said so to John. I quickly added, too that no one wants to sit through a slide show : that they are boring to most everyone. Oh well, so here I go and bore you with these added pictures that I just downloaded this morning ( Sunday, April 5th, 2009 here at my home in northern Virginia at 11:00 AM ). I hope you can muddle through them.

The pictures begin outside of Mano's restaurant in Green Point, Cape Town as we head towards Durbanville. I took them from the car sitting on the left side and snapping away as I saw something that might capture time and place and or interest. They are what they are : I got what I got and for the most part I am happy.

Some of the pictures are blurred, some are upside down ( and yet the red wine is not pouring out of Curly's glass, imagine that?!? ) and some are on their sides. I placed them here anyway as they do tell a part of this story and I hope if nothing else add atmosphere.

I was loving South Africa and John Morrison was the perfect travelling companion and guide. He told me so much as we drove and most of it, regrettably I have forgotten. I should have had a tape recorder to tape him and play back and include. That would have made an amazing set of blogs. Sorry, John!

I was captivated by South Africa and this area in and around Cape Town. I went a bit overboard with taking all these pictures and it did consume a lot of time, effort, focus and energy. I'm thrilled I did it. I don't know when I will ever return and so these photos will serve to help me fill in many blanks with time and help me to remember and tell more stories as the pictures make me think of one thing or another. They. in fact may have me asking more questions that I would like answers or opinions on.

I took the art approach to many of these photos as I like the artistic approach and ways I hope in seeing things with a new, fresh perspective. What do you think? Am I successful at all in your opinion?

I liked the way I interspersed these pictures of the route with pictures at the winery. Was I envisioning any of this as we drove? Did I have any real idea of what I would see, taste, hear or witness? Probably not, I don't like to go too prepared : I want the experience to wash over me serendipitously and with more impact and meaning than if I already knew everything.

I loved meeting Curly and later John and I met Curly back in Cape Town in a restaurant close to where John worked years ago. I think it is called The Daily Dine. It sure was dark inside. I loved my Springbok meal : it was so moist and juicy and sweet and wonderful. I would gladly eat it all over again ; some of the best meat I have ever enjoyed. Chef, proprietor Craig Paterson cooked wonderfully this evening and we ate and drank fine South African white and red wine like kings.

I really enjoyed what Curly was doing with both his red and white wines. As I say later on I loved the Petit Verdot red and hope that he bottles some and sends it to us at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits to seel soon. He also makes excellent Merlot. We at Cleveland Park have been selling now for three-four years Curly's dry, elegant, concentrated and yet smooth, bright, distinct Sauvignon Blanc. I hope to sell even more now that I have met you Curly and tasted your wines fermenting, in the works, bottled, ready to drink, etcetera. I'm also especially pleased to have dined with you and heard to speak about your passions in science and wine. It brought a big smile to my face when I heard to speak of John : you sure do know him well!

I did not have my camera ready but I should have on this day, especially this evening of Monday, March 16th, 2009 as we left The Daily Dine restaurant. There was a large tank by the entrance filled with lobsters and you spied them and quickly sunk your hand into it to the bottom and picked one up, pulled it out of the water with water splashing out of the tank and held it there triumphantly!

You had worked a lot with them, knew them well and tried recently to grow them in a controlled environment to ship, sell, export and make a living from. You exclaimed that you knew them well, that they were your friends and that you knew how to handle them. You were smiling the whole time as the hostesses looked on in disbelief and shock : they froze momentarily and before they could move you had already returned the lobster to it's tank and we were moving outside the restaurant and one our merry ways! What did they all say afterwards at the restaurant? I bet they tell the story each and every day of how you Curly pulled one up at held it proudly out of the water for everyone to see and admire!

I'm glad that I got some photos of the wines as we approached the winery and cellars. I'm also thrilled that I got pictures of both the red and white wines still fermenting.

Hands and feet are expressive and so I am thrilled to have taken the two pictures of Curly's hands all soaked in red wine and skins and pulp, etcetera.

I'm also thrilled to have taken the three pictures of Curly and my reflections in the plastic bucket of young, fermenting wine : or was it run-off wine? I don't know but the pictures are silhouettes/ reflections and I like that as much as the shadow-pictures I take to show that I was there or at least that my refelction or someone else's was there: that fixes them and makes them ours and nobody else's.

From start to finish, fermenting grapes, just arrived at the winery, cloudy, murky fermenting wines. We witnessed and tasted it all from start to finish : from murky, cloudy, milky white to bubbling , frothy, dark opaque red. Winemaker Curly Read showed it all to us and introduced us to his assistant winemaker that continued to work while Curly tasted us on still-fermenting wines as well as those already finished and in the barrels a week or two or months, depending. I loved the Petit Verdot from Curly and really made my point that he should bottle some all on it's own and not us it simply as a blending grape. I loved it, really I did !

Curly is the big reason that there is wine bottled under the HILLCREST label. He fought tooth and nail to get this to pass. He had to talk persuasively to the owners to bottle their own wine and not sell it off to other vineyards. He was successful and it was fun to meet and taste with Curly and to hear his story partly from him and partly from his good friend and my guide extraordinaire John Morrison.

I have taken these pictures and showed you as we drove up to the winery and then met Curly and walked through the winery, cellars and the tasting room and gift/wine shop and restaurant : all conveniently there side by side to take maximum advantage of having all these attractions working together to draw people their to HILLCREST.

I am sorry that the pictures are all tinted in rose and red colors. My " new "amera was giving me growing pains and I still have to learn how to use it to advantage. At this point I am still very much an amateur with it.

Oh well, I still think I got some excellent shots and like all the reflections I got in wine, glass and metal : dual realities all their existing side by side and often largely unnoticed by most of us I believe.

When we left the Mano's Italian restaurant in Green Point, Cape Town we headed over to see Curly and taste his new wines. I have already blogged about our wonderful meal at Mano's so check it out here. I highly recommend that dining experience to anyone.

Thanks for a wonderful afternoon and evening John and Curly that started around 3-4 PM. I enjoyed myself completely and have taken with me many amazing and special moments shared with the two of you.

I look forward to selling lots of your wines in our store in Washington D.C. the nation's capitol. Come and visit is Curly and let's do an in-store wine-tasting and a dinner, too.

Cheers, and keep up the excellent work. TONY

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