A few days ago I was browsing through my social media pages when a post from Corlea Fourie, winemaker at Bosman Family Vineyards, caught my eye. She posted a photo of their Pinotage vines, as an ode to International Pinotage Day.
Now we all know Pinotage has its heritage in South Africa, and, possibly as a result, a grape we have really had to fight for in terms of not only international, but local recognition and support. The Pinotage Association has decided that it is only fitting for South Africa’s National Grape to also have its own National Day. Starting from 2014, Pinotage Day will be celebrated on 11 October, but it is also a day with a difference in that the date will change every year to coincide with the second Saturday of October, the most beautiful month.
South Africa has both practical and patriotic reasons for aggressively promoting Pinotage as a grape varietal which provides wines of superior quality, wines which can hold their own against any varietal from any wine-growing region of the world.
Beyers Truter, chairman of the SA Pinotage Association, says that National Pinotage Day is not about talking, but about doing. ‘Although this is its first year, various wineries have taken the initiative and are offering special promotions and events at their wineries. We even have the Michelin-starred restaurant Hertog Jan in Bruges, Belgium, climbing on to the bandwagon and allowing their customers a glimpse of the Pinotage magic this Saturday,’ he says. ‘It’s a totally original South African wine made from a grape that was crossed on local soil between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut in 1925. Since the first commercial Pinotage wine was made in 1959 it has become a defining fingerprint of the local wine industry. Which other grape variety has, 55 years after it produced its first wine, garnered such claim and recognition as Pinotage?’ he says. ‘Quite simply, Pinotage defines the reputation of the South African wine landscape. Add to this the spirited fans of Pinotage, its passionate producers and the winemakers committed to constantly improving Pinotage’s reputation for excellence, and you have such a huge story to tell that it actually needs not just one day, but a whole year!’
Those wishing to get into the Pinotage spirit are encouraged to visit one of the wine farms who will be celebrating Pinotage Day. See www.pinotage.co.za for further details. And if you can’t get to the wineries, open a bottle of Pinotage and raise a glass to the country’s most celebrated contribution to the wine world.
Karen Glanfield is host of the very successful ‘Unwined’ wine appreciation courses, a Wine Specialist Tour Guide and is involved in many other vinous activities.