When I arrived at Angama, nearly eight years ago, I didn’t know a thing about wine. In the first few months, before the lodge had even opened, we had wine training with Alister from Under the Influence. I was hooked. This is where my wine journey began, and it has taken me to so many places.
In February 2020, Angama sent me to visit Cape Town on a wine tour. It was harvesting season in the Cape, and I was able to learn about the entire process of winemaking and witness it, too — from the different varieties of grapes, to the harvest, the crushing and pressing process, and fermentation through to aging and bottling. I learned about South Africa’s sparkling wines made using the methode cap classique (MCC) and — my favourite part — the art of wine tasting.
We visited a number of vineyards, namely Jordan Wine Estate, M.A.N Family Wines and Ken Forrester in Stellenbosch, Paul Cluver Wines, Almenkerk Wine Estate and Belfield in the Elgin Valley as well as Anthonij Rupert Wyne Estate in Franschhoek, many of which we serve at Angama Mara. Aside from the pure enjoyment of tasting wine, it was an educational experience. I toured the vineyards and walked the seasons of harvest and even got to pick some grapes! My experiences at the vineyards ranged from very formal to highly personal — my most special moments were when the owners would pull bottles off the shelf or pour wine directly out of the barrel for us to taste. Sharing their history and pride in what they had created made everything taste better and created memories for me that will last a lifetime.
More recently, I had the honour of meeting and learning from one of the most inspiring people in the wine industry, Joseph Dhafana. He came to Angama to teach us about wines and speak about his incredible story, going from a homeless refugee to an award-winning sommelier. He taught us that each wine also has a story, which is important to share when recommending it to guests.
I learnt so much from his expertise and immediately put it to practice, including leading a wine-tasting experience for guests over the holiday season. Having visited the vineyards also made me think more about wine storytelling. A story lasts forever and is something that I can begin by telling you its origin, but the ending is determined by you, the consumer. The wine will start as an idea in South Africa, will be tasted in a lodge in Kenya, and might one day be the wine you serve at your wedding.
I chose to learn about wines because it was important for me to know about we offer at the lodge and to be able to better serve our guests, learn their preferences and make recommendations accordingly. But mostly, I learnt about wine because it can be such a simple pleasure to enjoy. Wine is about romance in the bottle, the surrounding experience and who you’re sharing it with.
Adlight gives special thanks to Alister, Zara, Diane and Sarah from Under the Influence who taught her from when she was a beginner. She has since signed on to their online Beverage Intelligence courses and has passed the exams and attributes her passion for wine to them and their careful instruction.
Filed under: Stories from Angama
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