Of Whales and Wine Galleries


A rogue Killer Whale has been trying to stir up animosity between the Pendock Wine Gallery @ Taj and the Wine Gallery @ Ellerman House on the interwebs. I have never had the chance to discuss my gallery ideas with Ellerman owner Paul Harris, as he flies BA business class while I’m at the back. But I did tell his people about my plans and even discussed my ideas with a colleague at Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 (where I’m a curator) but was advised “don’t waste your time with Ellerman House as the cellar is Paul’s ego trip.” So I didn’t and went to the Taj instead.

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I wasn’t invited to the opening of the ewg but I read in ART SA “the brief to the design team from the owner, Paul Harris, was to come up with a original concept for the wine gallery that had never been seen before. Harris wanted to create a space where guests and friends of Ellerman House could taste and appreciate the many fine wines produced in South Africa, while being inspired by world-class local architecture, sculptural art and design.  ‘The wine gallery is a work of art, rather than just a functional space,’ explains Harris. ‘I am truly delighted with the way the brief was interpreted.’”

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Which is nothing at all like my idea . In the pwg, wine is the art work, not the gallery. It’s the realization of a social sculpture that Joseph Beuys talked about (above). So while Moby may be a compatriot of Joseph, they’re not on the same wavelength. Which is what you’d expect given a genius and a fat viskop. While I wish Paul all the best for his interpretation, I found the recent choice of ewg by some plutocrat terroiristes to launch the Cape Vintners Collection to market terroir wine, problematic. For as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland “there is no there there.” The same applies to Bantry Bay when it comes to terroir, in spades while the pwg is 100m away from the Company’s Garden where Hendrik Boom grew the first grapes for the first ever SA wine.

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When we persuaded Whitey Basson to apply Checkers retail muscle to Stellenbosch terroir, we held the judging, public festival and press tutored tasting for Battle of die Berge at Muratie (above), which has terroir to burn in a jetmaster. Once again, I’m not on the same wavelength at all. But no worries, producers can decide for themselves who is sexier or more importantly, who will sell more wine. Checkers or Ellerman House?