Monday and Tuesday 25 and 26 July 2005
Photos and writing by Zelma Long
With thunderstorms along the east coast and south interfering with plane schedules; we flew from Nashville to Chicago and then on to Boston, but delays in Chicagoheld up the flight from Nashville and forced a reschedule, getting us late Monday evening into Boston. Monday was therefore a day of travel and computer work on the plane.We stayed in Hampton Suites, a new, spare but comfy (and moderately priced) business hotel, in the developing"South End" of Boston. The best feature of the rooms was free wireless Internet, allowing fast and efficient communication. The South End, a past home for the Irish-American community, has gorgeous old brick and brownstone homes shoulder to shoulder. It is a "hot" living area for Boston's young professionals, and many restaurants and small wine shops have settled there.Tuesday we visited several major wine stores: Marty's, Delucca, and the Wine Emporium. In the latter store we found a young South Africa wine fan; the wine buyer and lead salesperson. This was not the first time we had heard commentary on RSA wines; some themes have been:
1. RSA wine sales are showing very strong growth, in volumeand price point, in the U.S.
2. Several retailers told us they were convinced that South Africawas the "next big thing" in wine producing countries of the world.
3. Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc have caught the trade'sattention as good quality and value.
4. Red wines have a mixed reputation; several people acrossthe states mentioned encountering "bandaid" or "iodine"or "musty" smells.
5. There is some confusion about virus; many of the trade wesaw were aware of the presence of leaf roll virus in RSA, yet many were uncertain if (a) it was still a problem; (b) whatwere the negative effects of leaf roll.
A special visit was to the Harvard Club, a venerable institution with a dining roomand quite magnificent large rooms for major social functions, and therefore, a major purchaser of wines.We wound up our day receiving key trade guests for dinner at Pigalle, a small butvery fine French style restaurant in the heart of Boston, and speaking with Dr.Michael Apstein, a Harvard medical school professor, and wine writer for the BostonGlobe. Dr. Apstein has seen the Cape and he spoke eloquently and enthusiasticallyabout the land and its wines, posing many thoughtful questions about our project and itstechnical details (and general questions about leaf roll virus!).Tomorrow morning we will arise at 4:45 a.m. to catch the 6 a.m. train to New York City.