THE passing last week of the exuberant, passionate Ross Gower brings to an end another chapter in the book of Great South African Wine People. I am not going to go into all the technical details of Ross’s career, but do know that he left an indelible mark on our industry. Think Sauvignon Blanc and Vin de Constance. Think Ross. On a personal note, he was one of those fantastic people who upon recognising one at a wine-tasting or show always cracked open a huge wrinkly smile and looked truly happy to see you. The last thing we spoke about on these occasions was wine as Ross had too much life in him to allow conversation to be limited to one topic.
On a more formal level I remember hosting a tasting of the Wine Swines, of which Ross was a beloved member, and being flabbergasted at his ability to identify foreign and old South African wines on the button, and then sitting back and laughing and modestly stating how lucky he had been on that particular flight.
Hell, I’ve even got a wet eye as I write, but I’m sure Ross will be up there telling me and other mourners to get over it.
One of the other tragedies is that the aforementioned book on Great South African Wine People has not been written ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ in the literal sense, that is. Sure we wine folk all get around and tell stories about men and women who have through their unique vinous passion and vision carved out their names on the great Southern wine landscape. Yet they are being covered by the sands of time. Where is the book or other document recording these people’s contributions, as well as depicting their unique personalities? Are we just going to allow the contributions of these people to a unique industry to be forgotten?
I really think that the South African wine industry’s powers that be ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ whoever they should be – should consider honouring the fallen heroes of the South African wine industry as well giving current influential stalwarts a platform in which to tell their stories.
I find it really embarrassing to have to resort to fleeting tidbits when asked to provide information on people like Desiderius Pongracz, Ronnie Melck, George Spies, Frans Malan, Ernst Zeh….the list goes on and on.
If we as an industry cannot get our act together and provide the story of South African wine as told by those who were ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and are ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ at the coalface, we do not have as much to be proud about as we think we have.
– Emile Joubert