26 Apr Beards and Barrels, the Craziest Wine Industry Event
Barrels and Beards have become as synonymous with the Bot River wine region as fine wine, cool terroir and colourful winemakers. Thanks to the latter element, the region’s recent annual Barrels and Beards showcase was another huge success leading to a combination of pulsating entertainment, decadent showmanship, great wine and a party that saw the sun rise over nearby Walker Bay.
“In short, not an event I will be missing ever again,” says Joaquim Sá, MD of Amorim Cork SA whose enthusiasm for this occasion saw Amorim come on board as an official Barrels and Beards sponsor in 2014.
The seventh running of this event was held at Barton Vineyards, culminating in the crowning of the local winemaker who had shown the most success in cultivating an aesthetically pleasing spread of facial hair which he had to present to the audience with a spot of self-improvisation. Amorim Cork was there – not with a beard, but as a sponsor of cash prizes for the top three bearded oenologists, with Joaquim roped in as one of the judges.
This party once again welcomed a cool, diverse and eclectic crowd to barrel tastings of the latest and older vintages from this prized wine region known for its pioneers and mavericks, to give guests a true taste of the Botriviera from vineyard to glass.
“More than an occasion to, ahem, let hair down, our Barrels and Beards highlights the vineyards of the valley that give rise to our unique wines and shines the spotlight on every individual who contributed,” explains Kobie Viljoen, Chairperson of the Bot River Vineyards Association.
During the hairy highlight of the evening, the Beard Parade, the judges crowned Peter-Allan Finlayson of Gabrielskloof Estate as the 2017 Best Bot Beard Champion. He flaunted his whiskers as a bright eyed and busy-tailed tiger and had the roaring audience on their feet with his svelte stage moves culminating in an impressive striking and killing of a hapless mounted antelope.
“Despite the fierce competition, Peter-Allan was a worthy winner,” says Joaquim. “His beard was full-bodied and poised, with a smooth, velvety structure. And the adventurous show he performed was breathtakingly exciting and filled with tension as he stalked the antelope with guile and stealth before pouncing for the kill. Beauty can be vicious and cruel, but worth showing.”
Some of the other guises on stage included a quick-witted Chuck Norris, hunky David Beckham, the Botriver Rapper, Beauty and the Beast, the Hairy Fairy, G.I. Beau, Abe Lincoln and the ex presidents, and the Beer Brew Guru from Honingklip.
“This celebration of the humble beard near the conclusion of our annual grape harvest, began by accident,” explains Niel Verburg, the legendary Bot River winemaker who also participated in this year’s event. “There’s little time for shaving during harvest-time, so I laid down the challenge of seeking the hairiest Bot River winemaker. Throw in some crazy spirit and off-the-wall personalities – of the kind we tend to breed – and this is festival is the result.”
Producers that took part in the 2017 Barrels & Beards celebration were Barton, Beaumont Family Wines, Eerste Hoop, Gabriëlskloof, Genevieve MCC, Goedvertrouw Wine Estate, Luddite Wines, Paardenkloof Estate, Rivendell Estate, Thorne & Daughters, Villion Family Wines and Wildekrans Boutique Wine Estate.
The evening ended with a delicious feast of the valley, made with all things lekker and local, after which the guests danced the night away in true ‘Bot River opskop’ fashion.