Jeanri-Tine van Zyl: #FoodiesVsWinos and the missing Steenberg

By , 4 February 2015



#FoodiesvsWinosRecently footage of smash-and-grabs and attempted hijackings in Johannesburg have been making the rounds on Facebook. People falling victim to crime is unfortunately nothing new, but once shared on social media, the sense of fear becomes ever more pervasive.

This was the case when a dear friend, psyching up for relocating from Cape Town to Johannesburg, stumbled across dramatic footage posted on her Facebook wall. In Cape Town, we seem to enjoy a false sense of security. No criminal activity filmed and shared online, no reason to believe that crimes are committed in our city – or that’s how it seems. In my friend’s mind, life in Cape Town does not warrant anti smash-and-grab film on your car windows, your Garmin can be displayed and your bicycle can be kept on rack on the back of your care without fear that someone will steal it at the next intersection. The same does not apply for Johannesburg.

We were debating the topic during the annual #FoodiesvsWinos event, where food lovers battle it out with wine lovers in a boule tournament on the lawns at Warwick in Stellenbosch. Held for the fifth time this year, this event is considered “very serious”, not so much when it comes to boule but rather on account of the entry requirement which is a magnum-sized bottle of wine.

Standing next to a boule court, our conversation attracted the attention of Ronel Smidt, a recent victim of crime herself.

To secure her entrance to the boule tournament, Ronel, manager of Catharina’s restaurant at Steenberg, had four bottles of the wine estate’s 1682 Brut Cap Classique especially bottled in magnum for the occasion. Made by Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year 2014, JD Pretorius, it’s a fine example of Cap Classique, and Ronel was naturally excited to share her bounty with fellow wine lovers on the day.

However, on the eve of the annual tournament,  Ronel fell victim to a vinous crime. Her vehicle was broken into and perpetrators stole three of the four magnums (she had the presence of mind to serve at least one of the bottles at a dinner party the night before). Nothing else was missing from her car!

The crime was not captured on film so we had to make our own assumptions: Was one of the players at this years’ boule tournament desperate enough to break into a car in Cape Town suburbia in order to meet entry requirements? As we found no Steenberg Brut 1682 amongst the other magnums served on the day, this possibility was ruled out.

It was a smash-and-grab which elicited a different kind of fear in Ronel: “Whoever stole my magnums are either going to sell it for way too little or not serve it chilled!”

My friend had to concede, we are not exempt from crime in Cape Town, but at least we share some commonality with our criminals, as the magnum offenders did illustrate a serious commitment to securing some fine wine – a ‘crime’ we have all been guilty of.

  • Jeanri-Tine van Zyl worked for Wine magazine as a journalist when it was still in print and is now a communications consultant, freelance writer and an occasional wine judge.


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