Archives for posts with tag: Neil Jewell

I love it when you have a good retail experience. Especially when it catches you by surprise.

In these days of a highly competitive marketplace, supermarket shopping and generic availability of product, it will always be a combination of product, price and service which will compel us to part with our money. For me, it is the service which is the most important chunk of this equation.

Caviste in Overton

Caviste in Overton

Last week, I ventured into the tiny village of Overton near where I am temporarily living to purchase some wine. My colleagues told me there was a little shop on the high street and so I discovered independent wine merchant, Caviste. Through their little door lies an authentic, open space full of the most wonderful selection of wines. But it was the lovely Peter who made all the difference. He had just the right balance of knowledge, affability and charm to persuade me to part with much more of my money than I had planned. I went away with a couple of bottles to accompany our cheese & wine evening along with a subscription to their newsletter. Good for Peter. He really converted me to their brand and I will definitely be attending one of their tastings and a tapas evening. It’s no wonder they won the International Wine Challenge award for Regional Merchant of the Year in the South East – twice!

SONY DSC

I have to admit that I am not really a great expert on wines, but by talking to friends who are, I have a few favourites that I learnt about. I know about Priorat from H who has long been a fan even though it is only latterly becoming renowned. And Lou told me about Amarone. On my travels to the new world regions of South Africa and New Zealand, I became much more informed about the lesser known grape varieties they work with, along with some wonderful wine makers and vineyards.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

On my last trip to South Africa I was lucky enough to be just at the right time to attend the annual Blessing of the Harvest at Moreson Wine Estate. We were able to participate in the wine making and then be rewarded for our efforts with a wonderful lunch made by chef Neil Jewell. This is the most wonderful way to connect with the vineyard and the making of its wines, so if you happen to be there, then book your place and get squishing.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Another must do for wine fans out there is to visit MonVinic in Barcelona. This bar/restaurant from wine maker Sergi Ferrer-Salat is a lesson in design, style and of course wine. Senor Ferrer-Salat had a vision to create a central hub of expertise for the city and he is a man who normally achieves what he sets out to do. His eye for detail and obsession for perfection has created a space that is a must if you are in the vicinity. Their tables have been made to accommodate wine coolers along the centre all temperature controlled and they have a fabulous touch screen wine list. I urge you to go, see, talk to them and understand just what they are achieving over there.

SONY DSC

The buzzword of the moment is experiential.

Businesses are constantly looking to differentiate themselves from the competition and to connect more emotionally with their customers. It is important to offer something more than just a branded product and that can be achieved by creating a unique and memorable brand experience. Black Tomato have established a hugely successful travel company on the back of this and many restaurants and retailers are extending their offering to include courses, talks, stayovers and much more to exploit this fashion.

This Saturday I got to see just such an initiative at the beautiful Moreson vineyard in Franschhoek. We were to attend the ‘Blessing of the Harvest’ where we would create wines the old fashioned way with the team there.

The day started with a glass of bubbly and a small bite to get us in the mood for the whole event.

Plenty of crates to fill in the 35 degree heat

Tackling the vines

There was a sense of really being part of something both fun and fulfilling. I also developed a load of respect when you realise just what a small dent this big group of people made on the overall crop.

Hand cutting the Sauvignon Blanc grapes

One crate of grapes picked and ready to stomp

Once we had filled our crate, we were encouraged to enter the one minute challenge of crushing our grapes by foot…the old fashioned way!

It turns out there is a technique for optimising the amount of grape juice you get which involved various levels of hugging and big feet! Others chose to cheat and bolster their juice levels in other ways in order to win the prize for most juice from their barrel! Clearly I was not competitive enough and didn’t win that prize. Nor did I win ‘best legs’ prize, but better luck next time.

The Moreson team changed the way this part of the process took place this year and for me it was a little bit slapdash. I would have preferred to have stomped for more time (in the shade) and seen more about the whole cycle of making wine. But after our 1 minute stomping and 2 minute liquid collection we were done and sent off to try the professional stuff.

Apparently hugging your partner helps - it's a loving process this wine stomping

Best legs winner...judge for yourself

The added benefit of having this event at Moreson is that it is home of the beautifully appointed Bread and Wine restaurant, run by Tina and Neil Jewell. Neil came over to South Africa from the UK many years ago and has established himself as a leader in the charcuterie business making all sorts of wonderful cured meats. He even does a course if you are interested. And so the final part of this Blessing was to partake in a grand buffet lunch at the restaurant. Once again, for me, there was a bigger opportunity to link the wine and food which would have completed the experience, but Neil certainly laid on a spread.

Bread & Wine

Neil's spread

Overall it was an enjoyable day and fascinating to see that we were surrounded by locals and tourists alike, of all ages from young children to retirees and from around the world. There were also a couple of businesses on a team day which was a great idea. I am always amazed by how people find out about these things but the lesson is that they do. And I guess that is what this experiential marketing is all about.

Whilst I didn’t win the label design competition either, I am looking forward to receiving my bottles of ‘Footsteps’ wine in a years time when it has matured into something more drinkable. Until then, I will hold onto the connection I have with this particular vineyard and there’s a lesson to take from that.