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Stables Winery “Weekend” Festival
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Zimbabwe to me, is still one of the most incredible places on Earth; with raw beauty like nowhere I have ever been. The people are overly accommodating and always friendly. This weekend I once again had the privilege to attend Stables Winery’s annual Wine Festival in Harare. A whole bunch of us “wine-people” from various wine farms in South Africa flew up for a 3 day series of events. Amongst those travelling with me, which included representatives from Strandveld (with their phenomenal Sauvignon Blanc), Springfield (with their mind-blowing “Wild Yeast Chardonnay”), Excelsior (with their beautifully rounded Cabernet Sauvignon) and Villiera (with their “Monro” bubbly, which changed my life), just to name a few. All in all it was a great bunch of wines and people to be spending a wild weekend with!
 
As Zimbabwe is one of Kanu’s best wine markets, we make a point to fly up for every festival. The festivities started on the Thursday, the weekend ended off with the official Stables Winery Festival on Saturday, 26 May 2013. All together we are usually around 15 wine farms that go up for the festival, and in Zimbabwe itself, it is known as the “not-to-be-missed” event of the year, with tickets selling out within the first 48 hours of sales!
 
Thursday evening, shortly after we booked into the newly built Kingsmead lodge, the first event kicked off the weekend. 90 of the Stables Winery clients attended the wine tastings where visiting farms could showcase a selection of wines at the famous Amanzi restaurant, followed by a fabulous dinner. Owned by Andrew and Julia Mama, Amanzi is one of the best restaurants I have been to in a long time and exceeds any misconceptions I may have had about Zimbabwean food. A 100% gourmet dinner started as my scallops arrived with blood pudding and pea puree was placed in front of me. This was followed by a PERFECTLY cooked beef fillet, chocolate bread and butter pudding for desert and finished off with a cheese platter. A meal fit for kings!!! With so many great wines circling the tables, none of us were left thirsty. Around 7pm a jazz band started to play, so by 10pm loads of people were doing their thing on the dance floor. And that kicked off the party for the weekend!
 
(If you ever find yourself in Zimbabwe, make sure you give their restaurant a go! And not to worry… they have Kanu on their wine list!  http://www.amanzi.co.zw)
 
Friday was a slow day, as most of us had to recuperate from the evening before. (This was due to sore feet and definitely not the copious amounts vino… which we never had of course…) Being the tourists that we are, a bunch of us went to local shops and restaurants and found a bunch of hidden gems! At 2pm we had a “Masterclass tasting” where each farm presented one of its favourite wines to 15 of the Stables Winery’s top buyers. I poured the Kanu Viognier (“Peaches and cream”), which as you may know is my favourite wine… as in EVER! (Yes, I know. I am a wee bit obsessed.) During this tasting I also got to hear fabulous stories from other farms and taste their favourites. It is mind-blowing what some of the farms are doing. I even found a few new favourites outside of the Kanu spectrum!
 
Friday evening Dave Curtis, owner of Stables winery, spoilt us with a fabulous evening of curry at the Kingsmead Lodge, which is of course where we were staying as well. Whoever knew that the combination of wine, Jenga blocks and curry could make for such a fun evening?!
 
Saturday was the highlight of the weekend and the official day of the Stables Winery Festival. This year’s theme for the festival was African Chic and everyone arrived dressed up. It was only Pierre-Ben (from Diemersdal) who accidently ended up looking more like an Indian “Raj”! Starting just before 12pm, the masses rolled in to taste the best wines South Africa has to offer, while bands like Dudu Manhenga (http://www.dudumanhenga.com) and Sterling EQ (www.sterlingeq.co.za) boomed in the background. The Stables winery had ordered a barrel of Rifle Range Red a few weeks before, and to my surprise it was part of the centre piece for the show. With two big metal Kanu birds keeping a watchful eye, people could have “Kanu on tap”! Food and wine flowed until 12am, when the last of the “party rockers” finally started heading home.
 
The fantastic thing about this weekend was that we got to spend one on one time with our clients in Zimbabwe. It is always so rewarding to hear people talk about your wine like others talk about their secret “obsessions”. Like our wines had the capability to take them to their happy place; where nothing else matters more than the “here” and “now”.  Zimbabwe will definitely see all of us again very soon…


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