Spending time with my friends and family, seeing my granny laugh, finding art that moves me, discovering wine I can't forget, tasting something that makes the hairs rise on my arms.
5. What do you love about your industry?
The warmth and generosity of the people I meet.
6. Describe your average workday, if such a thing exists.
I wake up about 5am, brush my teeth, make a cup of coffee, check my email and calendar. Work on compiling interviews, research for stories and compile notes on new wine deliveries. Then I eat breakfast, get ready for my day job and head to work from 9-5.
On days when I have a wine tasting or lunch, I often know at least a month in advance and plan accordingly. My calendar is the only thing between me and falling apart completely. I also try to make sure that I don't over-commit; it's tempting when you work freelance to try to take all the work you can, so everything is a balancing act.
7. What are the tools of your trade?
A very good nose, a well-trained palate, fairly vast knowledge about agriculture, economics and global trends. Also, a wild sense of humour, a handful of adjectives, patience, timeous invoicing, an excellent work ethic, the ability to commit to deadlines and an agile demeanour.
8. Who is getting it right in your industry?
Internationally, Dr Jamie Goode, Eric Asimov, Wine Folly and very many more.
One of the biggest South African foodie events on the map, the 2017 Eat Out Mercedes-
Benz Restaurant Awards will be recognising the best local restaurants and chefs this coming Sunday, 19 November at
GrandWest in Cape Town.
In South Africa, I suppose the veterans continue to inspire, I'm always amazed by Neil Pendock's wine knowledge, Winnie Bowman is a pro, Fiona McDonald, Graham Howe, Abigail Donnelly, Len Maseko, Jeanri-Tine Van Zyl and so many others have made this industry one that I've felt so proud to become part of.
But, previous awardees of the Veritas Young Wine Writer of the Year Award – Malu Lambert, Sandile Mkhwanazi and Marthélize Tredoux – have all done phenomenal work.
Andy Fenner is, as expected, nursing a redhead when I go to meet him. Not the leggy kind, but the ice-cold kind served in a tall glass, with a dreamy, mousse-y head. We're at &Union, that Bree Street haunt for beer drinkers with fussy palates and the smell of wood smoke and pork wafts lazily in the early-evening air.
It's a challenging time in the publishing industry, I admire writers who continue to commit to producing excellent, enlightening work while navigating these challenges.
9. List a few pain points the industry can improve on.
If I knew the answer to that, I would save the water crisis! I think it's hard, we need to continue work on training and education, we need to find ways to reconsider the business model for print publishing, we need to understand how to embrace digital, we need to study good writing to become better – and we need to do all this while keeping the lights on and paying the rent. It's tricky.
10. What are you working on right now?
I've been privileged to review wine for Marie Claire magazine. I've recently started working on a series on careers in the wine industry for Wineland Magazine, I've had the pleasure of working on my first story for Sawubona, the in-flight magazine for SAA, I occasionally have the honour of writing for the Mail & Guardian Friday paper, I am working on a new project with Taste Makers Africa, and I'm working on a short story.
Freelancing is quite challenging, you never really know what's around the corner.
11. Tell us some of the buzzwords floating around in your industry at the moment, and some of the catchphrases you utter yourself.
I don't know if there are catchphrases, but wine certainly has its own language, which is why I obtained my WSET Level 2 certificate and intend to study further. Words like ‘minerality’, ‘corked’ and ‘malolactic fermentation’ were not part of my vocabulary before.
12. Where and when do you have your best ideas?
Sometimes it will be out of the blue, so I always keep a notebook and my phone's notes folder nearby. Sometimes it's while I'm sitting in front of the computer working, which is ideal.
13. What’s your secret talent/party trick?
I take notes without looking down at my notebook.
14. Are you a technophobe or a technophile?
Technophobe, for sure. I still struggle to blog. I'm sometimes months behind on Instagram. But I'm trying to keep up with digital as well as print and other forms of media.
15. What would we find if we scrolled through your phone?
Photos of my friends and family. Many photos of my grandmother. Many images of bottles of wine.
16. What advice would you give to newbies hoping to crack into the industry?
Work hard, be persistent, be willing to learn, be resilient, don't get lost in the noise, know what works for you, find your own voice.
In 2013, I was a Veritas Young Wine Writer of the Year and I consistently continued to work, even when it didn't seem possible. I'm grateful to all the people who kept encouraging me, and all the people who published my work.
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