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Tuning the Vine


23 May 2017  -  Melanie Sauer

I love wine and when it comes to wine-tastings, I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to enjoy it. From sunset horseback tours in Argentina, to wine festivals in Australia, and even wine-making farm tours in France, I think I've done a pretty good job at satisfying my adventurous side.

But I recently experienced a new 'wine adventure', which was incomparable to any other wine tasting I've done.

Often referred to as the city's 'First Inner City Wine Route', Tuning the Vine is an event that has gained strong support from young Capetonians. Despite the low temperatures and rain, the event still drew a crowd of 600 people for the last wine-tasting night of the season, many of whom were regulars.

“I've been coming for years. It's a shame because it is the last one of the season. But it is something that just becomes part of your routine in summer,” says one wine-goer, aged 24.

Launched in 2015, Tuning the Vine has attracted approximately 14 000 people, with over 450 different tastings. It embodies everything that the 'Mother City' is – new age, vibrant, electric, and welcoming.

It breaks the mould of the typical wine-tasting by bringing a traditionally formal event into the 21st century, and achieving what traditional wine tastings fail to do – an authentic social atmosphere, where attendees can meet like-minded people, bond over their love of wine and explore hip and fun venues together.

How it works

Wine adventurers can start at one of three 'stations' – 91 Loop Boutique Hotel, La Parada, or The Station on Bree – venues that immediately impress upon entering. Once provided with a sleek, stemless wine glass, which I am sure is a staple of many 'Yuppi', and student share houses in Cape Town, you can begin your journey around the city centre.

One exhibitor, at 91 Loop Boutique Hotel unexpectedly drew quite a crowd. Woodstock Gin Company, as the name suggests, did not offer wine tastings. This, however, is not just any gin. It is a wine-based gin that is smooth and elegant, topped off with a hint of jasmine. It's delicious, and a perfect example of how the event brings new and exciting flavours to the youth.

“I usually stick to buying wines I know. Tonight I've tried to discover new favorites that I otherwise wouldn't know about,” says 21-year-old, Ayala van der Wahl.

Other crowd favourites of the night include The Tin Mine Red, by Zevenwacht Wine Estate, Klein Steenberg Cabernet Sauvignon by Steenberg Vineyards, and my personal favourite – a 2017 Sauvignon Blanc by Wildekrans Estate.

“The Steenberg Cabernet Sauvignon is soft, smooth, supple and juicy. Something that you can wake up and have for breakfast,” says sommelier, Ewan Mackenzie.

The theme of the wines all add to this social atmosphere and using wine as a way to enhance any social situation. Which really, is what wine, especially for this demographic, is all about.

What does it achieve?

The majority of attendees on Wednesday were young professionals and students. It's not surprising. The event is carefully planned so that even the smallest of details are geared towards attracting a younger audience. From venue choice to entertainment, and even the staff working at the tastings, all of whom are friendly, chatty and have a passion for wine (but are in no way 'wine snobs'). It creates a scene that attendees feel they belong and therefore gives way for younger people to engage with the wine industry.

What's next for Tuning the Vine?

Personally, I'd love to see the event push the social aspect of the event even further. Everything is on point to encourage organic interactions between attendees. Last night, for example, participants could take photos with an Instagram frame at certain venues, to have a chance at winning “a lot of wine”. However the introduction of organised 'wine games', could take it up a notch. I'm thinking wine-themed trivia, or 30 seconds.

All in all, however, the night was a stellar season finale!