Thinus Krüger might be one of South Africa’s wine rock-stars. But he still has my DVD of the Martin Scorsese classic The Last Waltz, which I loaned him about five years ago, not able to stomach the thought of any young music aficionado being oblivious of the existence of the mother of all rock films.
The South African wine industry is set to follow the example of local citrus producers by employing the services of wild baboons to help identify superior fruit quality and to create new varietals. This follows the recent international media frenzy where reporters descended upon the Western Cape town of Citrusdal to report on the success a major citrus farmer had after the taste-buds of the mountain baboons had assisted him in creating a new sweeter-tasting and all-round improved variety of orange.
According to Faizel van der Vyver, a wine grower from the Western Cape’s Breederivier wine region, the assistance of baboons in identifying better grapes for winemaking must not be underestimated. “I let the troops of baboons patrol my Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc vines, and it is interesting to see which grapes they eat and which they leave behind,” says Van der Vyver. “Here in the harvest season they will only select grapes at optimum ripeness, around 25?+¦?????+¦???-¬B and disregard bunches that are not yet fit for harvest. Their ability to detect the correct degree of skin or pip greenness is uncanny.”