Cheers to Wineland Magazine!

South Africa’s oldest ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and longest surviving ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ wine publication, Wineland, recently celebrated its 80th birthday with a restraint uncharacteristic of the local wine scene. No big splash, tweet-fountain or six course lunch complemented by a few shaky speeches. Wineland editor Cassie du Plessis just got his troops and a few guests together for a braai at the magazine’s Paarl office, sunk a few bottles of wine and knowing Cassie, there would well have been a few words said.

The magazine started out as Wynboer, published by the KWV. Nowadays it is the communications arms of producers’ organisation Vinpro, the publication having changed its name to Wineland to be more inclusive on the linguistic front and probably to get away from the “boer” word which irks the ire not only of the Malemas of the world, but also of the pink liberals who claim tremendous self-importance in the wine-commentary stakes.

If I may ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ of course I may, it is my platform ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ I shall state that my mother Maureen edited Wynboer from 1979 to 1983. The publication was thus always lying around, and in current rare moments of nostalgia I identify Wynboer as a major contribution to igniting my wine interest.

In fact, the interest began prior to Maureen’s involvement. Her predecessor was the late,Chris Swanepoel, the likes of which the wine industry shall never see again.

Chris could drink like Dave Hughes, write like Tom Wolfe and his partying ability would make Anthony Hamilton-Russell and Pietman Retief seem like a set of Trappist monks. Sharing a slight resemblance to Julius Iglesias, Chris also had an eye for the ladies and they for him. During Chris’s tenure, thus, the covers of Wynboer magazine were often adorned with full-length body shots of models committing acts of vinous importance such as leading a horse through a vineyard, sipping a glass of Chenin Blanc on the beach or standing next to a barrique of French oak while wearing a see-through linen dress.

An impressionable teenager such as myself recognised these images of vinous importance and soon I was looking past the inviting cover in to the magazines pages where people such as Desiderius Pongracz, Vaughan Johnson, Pamela Vandyke Price, Andre P Brink and the late, great Godfrey de Bruyn wrote crisp, lucid prose on various industry issues. Many of the photographs were taken by Chris Jansen whose ability to capture the elegance of the Cape wine-lands along with its raw rustic edge is today still unrivalled.

The Stradivarius-owning ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ and playing ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ De Bruyn headed up the KWV’s marketing department at the time and wrote some of the most beautiful pieces on wine’s cultural relevance. So-much-so that publishers Human&Rousseau chose to publish a collection of these titled Wine and its People, a book that illustrates the subject of wine’s ability to inspire great thoughts.

I’m sure Cassie’s braai was great, but a collection of writing and photography from Wynboer/Wynland to celebrate its 80th year would have been a worthy contribution to the South African wine landscape.

The publication obviously still plays an important role in the industry and although much has changed, Cassie still ensures the magazine maintains a straight-talking platteland approach. In the October issue, for example, the Editor refers to someone as a “gevaarlike koekie”, translated as “dangerous chick” which might not go down that well in lentil-eating circles of Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs but has a refreshingly authentic ring to it.

On a final note, besides Cassie’s experience, skilled writing and editorship the Wineland staff include two qualified winemakers. Edo Heyns and Elona Nel are both BSc graduates of Stellenbosch’s Viticulture and Viniculture Department, and I wonder if there is another wine publication in the world that has full-time access to full-time writers of such expertise?

Well done Wineland. Soos Cassie s?+¦???+¦?+¦-+??, “Tjeers vir eers.”

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