This is probably the most difficult writing assignment I have ever attempted. Not being a writer by training, I have only ever written in an attempt to educate. Along the way I have had to do the occasional obituary. I guess this is more or less what this should be. I am reminded of David Harkins’ poem ‘She is Gone’, from which I have often quoted at memorial services or funerals:
“You can shed tears that she/he is gone or you can smile because he/she has lived.”
Sure, we can smile because of the many great issues Wine covered over the years and the fine articles that it contained. The opportunity it gave for so many wine enthusiasts to get into print. Of course, the tremendous education job it has done over all these years. This is a fundamental point for which it will be missed.
“You can close your eyes and pray that it will come back or you can open your eyes and see all it’s left…You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.”
Certainly Wine has put us all in a place we could never have been without the magazine. I personally think of all the great people who have been involved with the publication and just how great some of them were. A number of them are sadly no longer with us and certainly departed this world far too early. Harold Eedes, who got it up and going. Peter Devereux, whose early contributions set a standard for the future. Lannice Snyman, whose early involvement set the stage for what place food needs to take with wine. Tony Mossop, who for so long ‘did’ the back page and so much more. Outside the writing arena was Debbie Margolis who did much to ensure that Wine had the right kind of advertising support. I am sure there were others but those were some of the dearly departed that I knew well.
Of course there was controversy and occasional conflict. That served to show that Wine was doing what it should – offering different opinions and getting stuff into the open. Wine has had a dedicated staff, too many to mention by name, with some fine and knowledgeable editors, and deadlines have always been met and the new edition has always come out on time, to be received by the eager wine-lovers. One person should not go unmentioned, and that is a lady who has become a legend in the industry for her beaverish dedication to what she did, and that is Celia Gilloway.
Wine has hosted a themed tasting in every issue, some of which carried championship stakes, such as the Shiraz and Chenin Challenges. All of which did great things for the quality of South African wines. It has been the stage for the Trophy Wine Show, which produced the annual Icons book. Wine has produced 10 editions of its Best Value Wine Guide, one of the most-awaited annual publications, not only by the consumers but also the producing trade. There is just so much one could mention about Wine but, for me, one of the greatest attributes was that it was a ‘service’ to the producing industry and, the most important part of the industry, the consumer.
Undeniably, South Africa will be all the poorer for there no longer being a printed format of Wine.