The Elsenburg Auction


Not long ago, we told you about the great work Elsenburg is doing in preparing tomorrow’s winemakers. Lorraine Geldenhuys heads up the show, and manages to rope in some of the Cape's finest winemakers to help out on occasion.

Her all-star-revolving-supporting cast has included the likes of Ian Naude, Duncan Savage and Reenen Borman, meaning that her work looks more like the new Drake album than an ordinary tertiary education.

Well the education is anything but ordinary, and now Drake will be touring France thanks to a great initiative run by the students. Last week was the annual Elsenburg Wine Auction at Leopard’s Leap in Franschoek, and it’s worth talking about because it ultimately benefits the entire wine industry, indeed the whole country.

To summarize: a number of generous wine makers donate some outstanding and rare wines. 52 lots of wine are auctioned by Beyers Truter (who should quit whatever he does and work for Sotheby's). Lots of fun is had, lots of wine is enjoyed, lots of money is raised. My Afrikaans clearly needs improvement, as i was lead to believe I was offering R400 for a case of Columella. Turns out it was R4000 and a bottle of Tall Horse Merlot*. Other than that though, a great evening.

This entire exercise – essentially today’s winemakers helping tomorrow’s – is worth celebrating. These students have worked very hard to get to where they are, and realize how privileged they are to have that chance. Years from now, when the opportunity arrives for them to give back, you can bet they’ll do that and then some. They are about to embark on a trip that will change them forever. They can look forward to a whole new world of inspiration, knowledge and a lifetime of memories making them better winemakers and better people. And the fact that these are future leaders of this industry is invaluable to everyone who celebrates or works in wine.

Here’s hoping that this annual auction continues to grow every year. It would be amazing to see the corporates get involved, as they have with other auctions, and potentially help make this even more worthwhile. Imagine funding a scholarship for a previously disadvantaged young winemaker. There are plenty of exciting ideas that could be implemented as it evolves in the future. In the mean time, we should applaud the initiative of all involved. From the unbelievable generosity of those who donate, to the same from those who buy it, to the students who have clearly been moonlighting in event management. This is something that will benefit the students and the wine industry for years to come.

*This part did not actually happen. I don't think.

3am, back at the ranch. And they're off to France!

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