A Wine Festival in Zimbabwe? Don’t they drink beer? Do they actually have any money? So, what does the place look like these days?
So many questions about our neighbour up North. It is like our own mini-North Korea, minus the ridiculous haircuts and a nuclear weapon or two.
As I was in Borrowdale, the wealthiest suburb in Harare, my view was rather skewed. Unlike the last time I was there two years ago, this time I didn’t bump into President Mugabe’s cavalcade in downtown Harare on my way to the hotel. Visible weapons (ready cocked and aimed AK47s) were down dramatically. Last time I stayed on the edge of CBD where I saw obviously broken infrastructure, refuge being burnt on the sidewalks, groups of police/armed youths going for their training runs etc.
This time I saw lots of big houses and some small shopping centres under construction, residents making sure that potholes in front of their houses are repaired, massive properties in good nick…although a paint consultant/stylist is desperately needed! And most importantly, an air of optimism that was conspicuously absent two years ago. Speaking to Dave Curtis, the owner of The Stable’s Winery and organizer of the event, he said young people are coming back to Zimbabwe starting businesses and families. Everyone is anticipating when they can get going again, because one thing is sure, Zimbabwe has a lot of natural wealth. From fantastic agricultural soil to abundant minerals, to a highly educated population. This is a country set to boom and soon!
We had our first tasting session at a restaurant called Amanzi, situated in a beautiful, lush garden (Amanzi means water). Tables were scattered throughout the garden- Excelsior was next to a very big wind gong! Being a Thursday evening, things started off slowly, but by 8 o clock every wine table had a group in front of it. Zimbabweans are immensely enthusiastic and have an appreciation for all things alcoholically. They loved discussing wine, farming and were enthralled by Excelsior’s five generation history and the de Wet’s 300 year presence in South Africa. When the tasting ended, everyone stayed for dinner at Amanzi and with a good live band the place was soon packed out. When groups of girls started arriving with matching cowboy hats and lots of balloons, it started getting that manic university vibe. But we all got back to the hotel in one piece eagerly awaiting the next 2 days.
Friday afternoon, we had a tasting with The Stable’s master class at The Stable’s. We each presented one wine and had a couple of minutes to talk about anything related to that wine. As there was no set vintage, variety or region, it made for a refreshing presentation that meandered all around the Western Cape (and beyond!) from soil to climate, ancestry to wine makers. A perfect relaxed Friday afternoon tasting!
Saturday was the big day with the theme ‘African Chic’. The Stable’s Wine Festival is one of the biggest highlights on the Harare social calendar and guests and exhibitors dressed up for the occasion. Dave Curtis and his Stable’s team went to great lengths to ensure a fantastic event. Lovely marques, décor and food all made for a memorable day.
By the time the festival ended in the late afternoon there was a great party atmosphere, and the South Africans quickly joined in. Let’s just say we all had a great time!