Ten years past Apartheid, wine industry thrives

Friday, 14 May, 2004
Frank J Prial
'Imagine where we will be 10 years from now ...'

(With thanks to the New York Times)

Wednesday May 12, 2004, Stellenbosch, South Africa
- It was April 1994, just 10 years ago. We were an hour out of Johannesburg when the pilot announced, not that we were about to land at Cape Town, but that a far more momentous journey had finally ended. Election results were in, he said — apartheid was over. The passengers, mostly white businessmen, clapped and cheered.

As for me, I had, purely by chance, arrived at the dawn of a new epoch in this extraordinary nation's history. Over the next weeks, I talked with dozens of grape growers and winemakers here in the heart of the Cape winelands. The future was uncertain but they insisted that the possibilities were limitless.

Give us a few years, they said, and you will see.

Recently, I made the same journey here that I made a decade ago, from Cape Town to Stellenbosch, to Paarl and Helderberg, to Franschoek and Somerset West. I tasted, I questioned and I listened. And I discovered that South Africa has begun to make world-class wines.

It took a little longer than the winemakers predicted in 1994. And, indeed, not everybody is up to speed. But the best wines are exceptionally good and there is every reason to expect that dozens, no, hundreds of Cape wines will improve exponentially in the years to come.

To read Frank's article in full, please visit: New York Times

Issued by: New York Times