Diamonds and Slaves

The recent discovery of the wreck of the São Jose-Paquete de Africa off Clifton has swiveled the spotlight from the beautiful beach babes into the darkest recesses of the SA cellar and illuminated the role slaves played in establishing the SA wine industry. Of course the poor unfortunates who died in their shackles beneath deck on the SJ were bound for the sugar plantations of Brazil and the opening up of the New World, obesity and dental decay. Funny how slaves were so quickly forgotten even though there’s many a slave bell standing mute in the photogenic wine estates of Stellenbosch and Constantia. Will Vinpro groot baas Rico Basson apologize to their descendants one day? Will they ever be invited to Veritas? The only wine identity who remembers the past is Mark Solms at his brave Solms Delta community in Franschhoek.


This kind of issue is food for thought for the Thinking Times, an initiative that seeks to reproduce the intellectual salon of Lawrence Jones and the Troyeville Hotel in snoozy Cape Town. So if you’re uncommitted on Wednesday evening, come on over to the Taj Hotel for a snifter of Demant brandy and a chance to hear marine archeologist Jaco Boshoff talk about the SJ. After all, slaves are not the only things lost in the South Atlantic. There’s a King’s ransom of diamonds, too.

Phone Ashley van Rooyen on 083 299 3905 to reserve a glass.