Tuesday, September 20, 2011

South African Food & Wine Festival | Gum Spring, VA

(From contributing writer, Terry "Smitty" Ebright)

After experiencing consecutive days of relentless rain due to Tropical Storm Lee, the 6th Annual South African Food & Wine Festival hosted by
Grayhaven Winery was met with a beautiful sunny weekend on September 10 and 11. Nearly 2,000 people came out to the award-winning winery located on the Central Virginia countryside to taste over thirty wines from South Africa as well as Grayhaven’s selected vintages. The event presented a truly unique opportunity for visitors to sample imported South African wines that are not readily available to the public. And as an added bonus to this year's fest, two winemakers made the trek from South Africa to be on hand to discuss their distinctive wine culture.

Accompanying the wines were several South African foods such as Peri-Peri Chicken, Biltong (awesome jerky), Boerewors sausage with train smash (stewed tomatoes & onions), chutneys, and spices along with traditional wares from the country. As the organizers of the festival note, "Eating at the South African fest is kind of like going to a restaurant that happens to be outdoors and is only open 2 days a year. Most meats, vegetables, and fruit are from local farms. The Boerewors sausage is hand-made. Mielie Pap is shipped all the way from South Africa. In a nutshell - this is NOT your typical festival food."

And what's a celebration without music and entertainment? JuxtaPower, a production company that promotes South African talent and history through performance, provided entertainment during both days. Included in the mix were tribal songs, Zulu dances, and storytelling. And appearing for the first time, special guest David Jenkins - musician, singer, songwriter – gave great performances. Discovered on the television program South Africa's Got Talent, Jenkins is often referred to as the "White Zulu" due to his mastery of traditional Zulu maskandi music. More simply put, I equate him as the young “Justin Beiber” of South Africa with a traditional folk music bent.
That said, back to the wine and to the question of how does one taste so many in one afternoon? It was not easy. There were so many and most were really good. Among my favorites , these six topped my list:

- MAN Chenin Blanc 2010. Surprisingly light with tropical fruit flavors backed with refreshing acidity and minerality.
- Grayhaven Riesling. Made in Alsatian style, this selection is very food friendly. Crisp and clean with bright fruit notes.
- MAN Pinotage 2010. Made with the South African national grape, this red offers berry notes with touches of cinnamon, smoke, spice, and soft tannins. Nice & easy.
- Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2010. This one is on the dry side. Nice color with berry and lime notes aligned with hints of nutmeg and black pepper. Perfect on a hot summer day.
- DeToren “Z” Red Blend 2008. A very balanced blend of seven different red grapes delivering intense flavors of plum, berries, spice with notes of tobacco and leather. Very enjoyable.
- Vilafonte “Series M” Red Blend 2006. Another blend of four reds. A great combination of sweet berries, nuts, and milk chocolate. Quite silky on the palate. My favorite, and very popular with the festival attendees.

It was truly a fun event. Great wines, sunny weather, beautiful Virginia countryside ... Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Grayhaven Winery
4675 East Grey Fox Circle
Gum Spring, VA 23065

1 comment: