A window on wine-making


The South African wine industry will be getting a new, fresher face when local reality series Exploring the Vine introduces viewers to the ins and outs of the industry through the eyes of three up-and-coming winemakers, Stuart Botha, Howard Booysen and James Corder.

According to executive producer Justin Bonello from Cooked in Africa Films, the 13-part series was funded out of their own pockets with no branding or sponsorships involved, although they approached Wines of South Africa (WOSA), the Cape Town and Western Cape tourism bodies, as well as individual wine makers.

“No one was willing or able to help – which is really sad and at the time I was flabbergasted that the most cost-effective method of promoting Cape Town, the Western Cape and the wine industry to an international audience was ignored by the same official bodies that should’ve been supporting us. At the time we were filming, the cost of production almost put us out of business.’

According to Bonello, the series came about by accident. “In passing, one of my colleagues told me about three friends who’d studied together at Elsenburg and are now making a name for themselves in the wine industry. I thought, what better way to give South African wine an identity than through the trials and tribulations of the three friends? I met them, liked them, and the rest is history,’ says Bonello.

Some of the most magnificent wine farms in the Western Cape’ provided the locations for the series, which follows the wine makers during an entire season of winemaking in 2010. According to Bonello, this proved another challenge since they were shooting for almost 12 months when they usually film a series in about three months.

The series was shot on the SONY EX1 in high definition. Notes Bonello: “The EX1 was a godsend. A robust, versatile, bulletproof workhorse – and when we coupled that with Final Cut our post workflow was brilliant. The only downside was getting used to the amount of bits and bytes, and therefore the hard drives we needed to cope with the volume of footage.’

Post-production was done in-house, since Bonello believes it’s not cost effective to outsource post in their field. “I have a hard-core team in post headed up by Wesley Volschenk, and his small team of Marlese Lenhoff and Mishal Fortune literally pulled rabbits out of hats. A grateful mention also has to go out to the trio of freelancing editors: Clea Mallinson, Willem Grobler and Roshni Naidoo.’

He notes that Exploring the Vine will take viewers on the longest wine route in the world, exploring organic wines; the art behind the sniff, twirl and spit; as well the trials and tribulations faced every year by South Africa’s winemakers.

Exploring the Vine starts on SABC3 on Saturday 4 February.

By Linda Loubser


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