It’s the long weekend, and on a spur of the moment decision Rob and I decide to check out Gerakaris Family Winery down the road (its the white washed converted farm building in the grounds of Colourful Splendour Garden Nursery, next to Delta Cafe – about a kilometer from Amanzi.
I have seen the Winery sign advertising wine tastings every time I indulge in my flower buying fetish at Colourful Splendour adjacent to Delta Park. Everybody knows that the Cape is the place for wines. And there’s certainly no vines to see in Delta Park. So whats a Winery doing in Craighall Park? I am curious. Its easy to park in the Garden Nursery grounds, and a sign points the way to the old converted farm building, now a charming white washed tin roofed conversion that is Gerakaris Winery.
You can sit inside or walk through the winery into the magical back garden – it’s a sunny day so we sit outside at one of a few long tables shaded by an old willow tree in the enclosed garden area. We have a view of horses, Cyclists, runners, walkers and dogs in Delta Park from here. But our attention is on the wine tasting.
Minos was ” on duty” to pour our wine, and he explained that we would have 4 tastings – two white made from Chenin Blanc grapes and two reds from Syrah grapes. He told us the grapes are brought by cold truck from the Swartland Cape area and Kath his wife is the winemaker. Minos (Greek husband of Kath) said he was an “enthusiastic amateur” before he met Kath. I couldn’t resist quizzing him on why the Winery in Craighall Park…
It turns out that his wife Kath, the winemaker, studied viticulture and winemaking in New Zealand and then travelled to SA to work in Thelema Wine Estate and Flagstone Wine Estate to broaden her experience of wine making. She didn’t mean to stop in SA, but three years into her wine making experience, she met Minos at a wedding, and one wedding led to another! Alas, Minos was transferred to Joburg in 2008 – What does a sassy New Zealander do , but follow her husband and open up the first winery in Joburg. Kath made wine inside her garage for a few years, before coming across the old farm building owned by the non profit REEA Foundation . (Theres a lot going on in this little precinct, but more of this in another blog…)
Our first tasting is Ellaki Chenin Blanc (named after their daughter Ella) –its golden, crisp and fruity – not surprising as its matured in a steel barrel to keep its crispness.
Another couple soon joined us and it was fun to chat. New friends are easily made when everyone is so relaxed.
Kath is proud to claim that the Gerakaris wines are natural – what does this mean? One of my biggest problems with SA wines has been the sulphides in the red wines and the high alcohol content. The French wines are a joy for me to drink when Rob and I are barging in France.
Kath gets to work to produce her wine magic from February to April. She goes down to the Cape to check the grapes herself, and works closely with the farmers. The grapes are brought to Joburg by cold truck and are hand sorted, lightly crushed an de-stemmed. Only natural yeasts are used and the wines are un-fined and un-filtered – wine language to say there is no added “stuff.” The Gerakaris wines have around an 11 % alcohol content – and you can also buy bottles directly from the Winery.
Tip: Over the weekend it’s a good idea to book in advance, as Gerakaris is fast becoming so popular and busy for wine tastings that you won’t find your place in the sun otherwise (R30 for 4 tastings! And R30 for a full glass of wine to explore the taste further and linger longer.) There’s a small menu of snacks if you are peckish – our table tried the olives and the Wagyu droe wors (there’s a story abut this premium Wagyu beef. The meat is unusually marbled, and exquisite in flavour, our new friends at the table tell us. Kath sources the cheeses from the Linden Gourmet cheese shop and tries for cheeses made by South African women cheese makers.
Its a really fun thing to do over the weekend on a sunny afternoon. Saturdays 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. In all seasons. Because Joburg has the best weather in South Africa.
Gerakaris Family Wines is at 20 Marlborough Avenue, Craighall Park – park at Colourful Splendour Garden Nursery.