My assignment is to visit craft distilleries in South Africa. In KZN, I visited Distillery 031 in Durban and Tapanga Rum in Zululand. In the Cape, the wine center of the country, distilleries are popping up all over the place.
Working in conjunction with ADI and SACDI, I had a list of six distilleries in Western Cape. All are within about 1-1/1/2 hours from Villiersdorp- but mostly in opposite directions, so they entailed a lot of driving. And I don't like to do two interviews on the same day, it's an intense project; drive, navigate, meet and greet, interview, record, photograph and drive home. So there's a day gone, then next day listen to the recording, relive the interview, look at all the pix and write the article.
But it was all so worth it. I met the most interesting people, ranging from enterprising Millennials to retired couples. There were lawyers-turned-distillers, engineers and HR executives. What united all of them, what the passion and enthusiasm for this burgeoning industry and I was thrilled to be part of it.
Of course, there were trips that we combined; leisure and "work." Like the outing to Saggy Stone Brewery. The Tanagra distillery I planned to visit is out near McGregor in the Robertson Valley, a good 1 1/2 hours away but Saggy Stone is sort of half way so we took two cars and met up at the Brewery.
Just getting there was a trip!
It is miles and miles of dirt roads and endless fynbos-covered hills, with an occasional village in the middle of nowhere. We kept seeing signs - 20km to Saggy Stone and on and on and after what seemed like 100km, we turned off on a small, rutted road that led into the hills. And much to our joy, we saw civilization.
And then a funny thing happened. Julie and Biff had arrived a few minutes earlier and we saw Julie walking back out to their car, pulled in and climbed out of ours. As we started walking towards the brewery, a young couple with several kids in tow were coming towards us. The woman stopped in her tracks, and with astonishment said, "I don't believe it! My old nursery school teacher!" She recognized Zoze from close to 40 years ago when she went to Mum's nursery school in Kloof and where Zoze was her teacher.
Amazing - Zoze, now living in New Zealand meeting up with an ex-student out in the middle of the boonies after all these years! Talk about coincidence! Or something!
We had a great lunch, and very good beer! I only had a short one, as I had to leave shortly after lunch for my afternoon appointment at Tanagra Wine and Guest Farm.
This really is an amazing country. It is so vibrant, diverse and so huge! Every day I feel more and more at home here.
Once a South African, always a South African.
Saggy Stone Brewery
GPS 33°41’35.6″S 19°43’05.6″E
T. 083 4533526