In South Africa, an artist in the vineyard
South African wines, once little known in the United States because of the stigma of apartheid, are taking off as connoisseurs trim their purses in search of quality for price: The South African rand's downward spiral has put many decent South African wines in the $10-to-$15 range. Wine columnists are bubbling like flutes of methode champagnoise. Regions like Stellenbosch and Swartland are rolling off retailers' tongues.
It didn't hurt that President Obama reportedly celebrated his November election victory with Graham Beck Non Vintage South African bubbly. (The same label that former South African President Nelson Mandela toasted with at his inauguration in 1994.)
Photo: Winemaker Eben Sadie samples grapes in his vineyard in the Swartland region of South Africa to determine if they are ready for harvesting. His perfectionism defies recession-era demand for cheaper wines. Credit: Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times