Interesting stories and good wines at festival

2010-05-10 00:00

THE Parklane Wine and Food Festival, which takes place at Parklane on May 13, has become an annual highlight for midlands’ wine lovers for good reason. It’s well organised, there’s loads of wine to be explored, plenty of food on hand and some pretty classy entertainment.

Another attraction for wine lovers is that there are always a few less well-known wineries taking part. Less well-known doesn’t mean they don’t make good wine. Many of them do. They just don’t make a lot of it and they don’t have huge marketing budgets. But they do have enormous passion for what they’re doing. They also have interesting stories to tell about how and why they’re making wine.

Three of the small producers who will be at Parklane this year come from an area that is probably better known for its apples and pears than its wine: Elgin. Highlands Roads Estate, Belfield and Elgin Valley Vineyards, who collectively call themselves Elgin Boutique Vineyards, have joined forces so they can manage a bit more marketing oomph.

In the past few years, Elgin’s cool climate has led to growing acclaim for its white wines, Sauvignon Blanc in particular, but also for its Pinot Noirs. Belfield’s Mike Kreft and his wife Mel are bucking the trend by growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc on their tiny 2,5-hectare wine farm, but their Magnifica red blend, which also includes Merlot, is really something special.

Elgin Valley’s Ian and Annette Corder have an exceptional Sauvignon Blanc, an amazing, perfumed, silken Viognier and a superb Shiraz. They also have a fun range of quaffers called Yellow Lorry (white) and Poor Corder (an interesting tale behind the name) which will in future vintages be labelled Red Lorry. Annette left behind a career as a travel consultant to become the family’s viticulturist in 2004 and now tends the vines with a mostly female team of workers.

Highlands Road has a KZN midlands connection with a Scottish twist: wine maker and co-owner Justin Hoy grew up at Nottingham Road (his parents ran the Notties pub for many years) and his wife Mary is a Scot. Justin will be easy to find at the Parklane festival — ­he’ll be the one wearing a kilt.

He’s passionate about Sauvignon Blanc and makes several variations of it, but he also has a couple of very good red wines, including a Shiraz Merlot blend called Ruadh.

Head for the Elgin Boutique Wines stand at the Parklane festival for a chat and a taste. The stories behind the farms are as interesting as the wines are good. Tickets for the event, which starts at 6.30 pm, cost R100 per person and are available from Parklane SuperSpar.

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