I have just returned from a week-long trip to the USA where, amongst other things, I attended the annual sales meeting of our US importer, Vineyard Brands. What an amazing time to be in the States, to experience the incredible excitement and outpouring of pure joy in the run-up to the inauguration of Barack Obama – what a boytjie! He reminds me so much of Nelson Mandela, not only in temperament but in his ability to unite people. It leads me to imagine where South Africa could have been today if Madiba had not been imprisoned for 27 years. I think of the potential of our country and what a privilege it would be if we could have either of these men to lead us today.

Included on my travel itinerary was a flight from Laguardia to Charlotte. If I had taken this trip a day later it would have resulted in a chilly swim in the Hudson River! What a story that was! I attended the Vineyard Brands sales meeting in Birmingham, Alabama where I changed the format from my usual presentation, brand plan and tasting to a more interactive discussion session, where I had the opportunity to tap into the collective intellect of this very distinguished group.  There were some great ideas that flowed from this collaboration. One of those which initially appeared quite radical, is the evolution of the Goats do Roam label. This has been our most successful wine in the US market, but with the arrival of so many critter like labels in the last decade (including geckos, leopards, snared wolves, lions, rhinos, giraffes, and every creature in between) it was felt that Goats do Roam should evolve. Although never really the intention, our original Goats do Roam label was one of the fist critter labels and we have decided to slightly alter the balance of the illustration to move away from this perception. We don’t simply rely on a silly label to sell wine! On Friday afternoon I spent a couple of hours with our design team and I am extremely positive about the changes in the pipeline.

Last week also saw us begin making clips for our video blog entries. This is really going to add a new dimension to our web presence and give you more insight into the way we do things at Fairview as well as the people responsible for our wines and cheeses. Chris joined me on a trip out to our Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in Darling and we will post the clip from this visit in the next couple of days. In addition to following the progress of our 2009 Sauvignon Blanc I am also going to introduce an exciting new variety for South Africa – Petite Sirah – through a series of clips. The 2009 harvest is now about a week away from starting and we are looking forward to a really great vintage. But more on that as we move through the next couple of months.

To Life!

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