21 July 2005
by Zelma Long
OK, so whose great idea was this? Hurricane Emily is playing havoc with even the best and most fool-proof plans.
We were delayed for three-and-a-half hours in Dulles airport in Washington DC and arrived in Austin Texas at one in the morning. At least it was a successful day in DC.We split up and spent the morning seeing restaurants and key retailers with the reps from our local distributor, 'The Country Vintner'. It is immediately apparent that the South African category is much more developed in metropolitan DC, Virginia and Maryland. It was an inspiring day and we received an amazing welcome for our wines. The wealth is thick in the air and not an eyebrow is raised about the retail prices of our $50 'Series' M and $70 'Series C' Vilafonté wines. We managed a 100% strike rate and our mood was lifted by the experience.Mike and I met up again at the legendary Bobby Van's Steakhouse for lunch with Ben Gilliberti, the well-known wine expert of the Washington Post.This country is 'Atkins Diet' crazy and we eat off the special 'low-carb' menu. We ordered gourmet burgers - a 'low-carbohydrate' burger which comes without fries or even a bun. The irony is that it is 'stuffed' with blue cheese, covered in bacon and served with the health option spinach - fried!Ben is a great guy and is going to consider a visit to South Africa. He works as a lawyer and has spent the past eight years on the Microsoft case. He is fascinated with and wants to learn a lot more about South Africa. The imminent changes being instituted by SAA to change their USA hub from Atlanta to Washington DC is going give this market huge impetus as the gateway to the US for South African wine. We see that the acceptance of South African wines is high already and this is very gratifying.Then, we rush for the flight ... this time to more presidential country ... Texas. We certainly didn't factor a hurricane into our plans!