Stories of the vineyards in South Africa
Provocative and quirky, Grape is the highly readable story of vineyards and wines in South Africa. It takes us from the earliest Dutch settlers’ struggle to plant vines under difficult conditions, through slavery, the forgotten black wine makers, land dispossession, a long history of making plonk (with a few exceptions) and the emergence of a world-class fine wine culture in the 1990s.
In gripping journalistic style, Grape follows the fluctuating fortunes of the wine industry and the growth of a thriving table grape export business, recounting the stories of real people, from slaves and farm workers to the modern-day businessmen who buy wine farms not for the returns, but for the almost mythical status of owning a wine farm.
Stimulating and wide-ranging, Grape debunks many myths as it brings to life the realities of life on a wine farm. It grapples with contentious issues like the dop system and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, the threats posed by climate change, the move to biological farming and the role of wine in South Africa’s exports and economy. A mix of history and economics, journalism, agriculture, and geography, Grape is first and foremost the true account of a divergent group of people, many of whom were classified Colored, whose lives have revolved around the vine. .