Women in Wine Interview with Katie Barratt – “The Fairy Godmother of the SA wine industry”
Katie Barratt better known as The Wine Fairy took some time to answer some questions.
Follow Katie over on her Facebook l pages Wine Fairy and Taste. Learn. Laugh. Her unique, unpretentious , humorous way of introducing wine and sharing her knowledge is just so much fun!https://www.winefairytours.com/
Katie runs the Wine Fairy wine tours and loves sharing what the Winelands has to offer with guests from abroad and locals.
Katie believes wine is for everyone ,isn’t snobby and not ashamed about sharing her “bargain bin” finds.
What can someone expect from a Wine fairy tour?
A relaxed, fun journey into wine. An overview of the SA wine industry, architecture, history, culture, magnificent scenery and wine styles. A day of laughter and tasting that suits your palate and explores the local wine regions.
Entering the world of wine can be a bit daunting. What advice do you give to those who have just started to drink wine. (Often , people think wine is “Snobby” and say its intimidating)
My advice is simple. If you like it, drink it and if you like the effect, repeat. Then book a wine course with me and I’ll demystify the mystery for you and have you tasting like a pro in a few simple steps.
Where did your love of all things wine start?
It was a dark and stormy night…Giggles. I remember my early wine days, that 1st moment when I was completely moved by wine. I was 19 years old, it was a hot day in April, I’m at a stunning farm in Stellenbosch. It was the end of harvest and we were all (40 students from Wits Hotel School) outside waiting to be introduced to the winemaker and learn about wine. The cellar door swung open and I went weak at the knees, a little dizzy and was just completely overwhelmed. This is love, I thought. Lights, music, all of heaven's angels, you get the picture. All of my senses awakened. I didn't know what hit me and in that moment, then realized that it's emotion. That feeling has lived with me my entire life. Now education has taught me that it was actually the CO2 being released during fermentation that made me dizzy but I’ll not allow science to take that moment away from me. That's my story. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair.
Covid-19 has affected many people and businesses. The Wine and hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit. How can an everyday South African assist these industries?
I’m in wine tourism, which has been hit even harder with the border closure and even now with the reopening, it’ll take time to instill confidence in the international traveler. Wine tourism is a major player in supporting the many restaurants, wine bars, wineries and accommodation venues, yet is often overlooked. Covid - 19 has us doing what I like to call the Pandemic Pivot. Many of us have reimagined our tourism businesses into virtual experiences, online courses and tours for locals. All of which contribute back to the industry. So, you can help by booking a Virtual wine party with your friends, choose an online course and learn a little more about wine or if you are brave enough to be out and about right now then book a locals tour and explore a little. Let a guide drive you around and share stories, knowledge and laughter. Be sure to wear a mask and follow all the safety protocols too, so we can all be back at work building our economy once more.
What is your favourite off the wall weird wine and food pairing ?
I’m a fan of choosing whisky over wine when it comes to cheese, especially the Peat Monster with a Gorgonzola. In terms of wine though I believe that desserts often get the raw end of the deal when pairings are involved yet not disputing the beauty and elegance of a Noble Late Harvest or a Straw wine here. I’m a Crème Brûlée fan but served with a perfectly chilled Chablis or a white wine blend with a floral note on the bouquet. A good acidity and brightness of fruit, yet weighted with creamy texture and elegance that just offsets the sweet crunch of brûlée and glides harmoniously with the crème. It's like a ballerina is dancing on my tongue.
Have you noticed any trends emerging in the wine industry that you would like to mention?
I think wine is the trend. Yes, it’s been around in South Africa since 1659 yet at the moment there is a real sense of camaraderie in the industry that the nation can feel. If not the world. From wine in a tin to Tinta Barocca the wine industry is where it’s at right now.
South Africa has a rich wine heritage. Which wine pops to mind when we talk about a proudly South African wine?
Meerlust Rubicon, without a doubt. It represents so much of our history, struggle and success. It’s an absolute classic, a valiant knight, a stalwart of the wine industry.
What is your favourite “everyday drinking wine”
Springfield Wild Yeast Chardonnay. It never disappoints and there’s always one chilling at my house. But shh, I don’t want the Kloof Street Chenin Blanc or the Paserene Bright to hear me.
Do you have a favourite “celebratory” wine that you would buy for a special occasion?
For me opening the wine creates the occasion and there are so many fabulous wines to choose from. On my last birthday, we celebrated with the Luddite Saboteur, both white and red, and the always elegant, most effervescent Genevieve MCC. (I have a tiny stash of a special release edition of bubbles from Meerlust too, but some things money can’t buy).
Is there a hidden wine gem or wine farm you would like people to know about?
Am I allowed two?
De Trafford is the epitome of being a hidden gem, it’s the sort of place that you read about in fairytales. Nestled in the foothills of the mountain, travel over streams, through vineyards, magnificent scenery and then there it is, a cobblestone driveway and at the end of a long and ‘wine’ding road. (Upper Blaauwklippen Road to be precise). They were recently awarded Platter’s 5 stars on 6 of their wines and have been receiving international acclaim for years, yet remain the most humble and gentle of folk. Very little is automated in the process, these are truly handcrafted wines.
The other would be Paserene. Here not only is the wine art in itself but the story behind the labels and the attention to detail at every turn. The harmony of the Paserene Nest that is an architectural language that seamlessly speaks of its surroundings. It lures you into lingering just a little longer over a decadent feast of small plates and platters while marveling at distant mountains and big blue skies.
And if that hasn’t convinced you to visit, then at least try the wines if you can.
You have recently started the Facebook group -Taste.Learn.Laugh. What can someone expect from this group?
It’s in the name really. It's a journey of global wine and culinary adventures. We demystify the mysteries of wine and travel the world through our wine glass. We are a fun group of folk who love to share knowledge, joy and laughter about wine, food and travel. It’s still new but we are growing. My idea is that it’s about your journey, from boxed wine to Bordeaux, from beginner to connoisseur, from your first sip to Sips Sense. Everyone is welcome to join us and share as much knowledge, fun and laughter as you like and together we explore the magic of a wine and food lifestyle.
If money and time wasn’t a factor which wine area would you want to visit?
The Loire Valley and Chablis in France, with a stop in Paris of course.
You do tours with international guests. How do their wine tastes (preferences) differ from our local preferences?
In my experience, I would say my guests from the USA are generally looking for bigger bolder fruit driven styles whereas guests from the UK are into more earthy character and a gentler mouthfeel. This is mainly driven by familiarity and palate preference developed over the years by drinking what is most accessible to each market. This has changed dramatically in the last 5 years with the success of SA wines abroad and wine becoming more and more a part of daily life. The South African palate has such a broad spectrum due to the expanse of terroir diversity and influences from both old and new world styles. I’m talking about your average consumer and quite generally clearly. To really define preferences one needs to have had exposure to many styles globally and understand one’s own palate preference which is as unique as the individual themselves.
If you were the President of South Africa, what Law (Bill) would you Sign into Law.
I would insist on improving the judicial system. Adding a time frame to each case to expedite the rulings. Clear the backlog of cases. Sort out the sentencing guidelines to suit the crime and implement better prison practices. Oh, and to end on a happy note, that a glass of wine at the end of a day is mandatory. Cheers, clink, clink.
Find out more about the wine tours here https://www.winefairytours.com/
Do you know a women in the wine industry that you would like to see featured?