For some reason, people often laugh at things I say. Sometimes it’s because they think I’m funny. Other times they think I’m daft. And many times they think I’m just plain mad – which is precisely what my beautiful neighbour thought when I told her I was visiting a winery in Johannesburg.
But … cue the trumpets … we really do have our very first winery – and it’s ever so lovely.
You can find Gerakaris Family Wines at 20 Marlborough Avenue, Craighall Park. It’s right next door to the equally delightful Delta Café (which happens to serve Gerakaris and damn fine food too). Don’t look for vineyards; there aren’t any. The grapes are sourced from the Swartland, but the wine is produced in Johannesburg.
The winery is open for tastings from Wednesday to Friday (12 noon to 5 pm), on Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm and on Sunday from 11 am to 2 pm). I met Lee-anne (my bestie) and her wonderful husband Brian there … so we could check out their grapes.
My friends were running late, which was opportune because it gave me a chance to chat to Kath Gerakaris, who is the winemaker. She’s a woman who has it all: she’s drop-dead gorgeous, she has the body of a supermodel, she has a wonderful husband and two kids, she makes terrific wine, she’s a talented gardener … and she’s nice too. (Why do some women have it all whereas I have absolutely nothing…?)
It turns out that Kath hails from the North Island of New Zealand, and it was Auckland where she settled to start her professional career in the high paced world of technology. Quickly tiring of the corporate world, Kath enrolled at the University of Lincoln and completed a year-long Post Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology. With her freshly minted qualification in hand she left New Zealand and planned to globetrot and learn all there was to know about winemaking in all the great producing countries. First stop, South Africa. She never left!
We’re really lucky she stayed – because she’s making damn fine wine. While I was waiting for Brian and Lee-anne, I ordered a glass of her Ellaki Chenin Blanc (R30/glass; R120/bottle), which is the one and only wine in the range that I don’t like; it’s just too perfumy for my taste. I enjoyed the glass nonetheless … but I wouldn’t have a second or buy a bottle.
The same cannot be said of the other three wines in the Gerakaris – in my opinion, they’re utterly outstanding. We ordered a wine tasting for three people (it costs R30 a head) as well as a bowl of olives (R30). The olives were sensational, incidentally. The other food offering – a cheese plate (R80) – looked marvellous too.
We started with the Ellaki Chenin Blanc, which is matured in steel tanks, and then went onto the Elli Chenin Blanc (R55 a glass, R220 a bottle), which is matured in wood. We all enjoyed the latter. Then we sampled the two reds: Tom Syrah (R45 a glass, R180 a bottle) and Thomas Syrah (R70 a glass, R280 a bottle). We all loved the two reds; the Tom is a wonderful lunchtime wine while the Thomas is far more complex and rich; it would go so well with a steaming bowl of oxtail.
We all loved our wine tasting … we will certainly be back. Maybe I will take the gorgeous neighbour with me … then she will realise that I’m not totally nuts.