World Fair Trade Day

The month of May is when Fair Trade organisations, companies and supporters the world over come together to celebrate and create awareness for the Fair Trade cause. World Fair Trade Day took place on Saturday the 14th of May and saw some phenomenal turnout from Cape Town alone amongst Fair Trade supporters.

Ukuva iAfrica has been an active member of Fair Trade since the beginning, over fifteen years ago. The importance of the WFTO sticker attached to our product means that a percentage of every unit sold is going straight back into the producer’s pocket. This is key to avoiding all the horror stories that are a very real threat to the farmers and workers who produce the product. By enjoying our fine African wines and African food, you are ensuring that those behind the scenes don’t fall prey to any mistreatment and receive a fair wage for what they do so that they might carry on in a life sustaining business environment. Ukuva iAfrica generates Fair Trade production by associating ourselves with the Cape Mental Health Society. For the past fifteen years we have been their biggest contributor and have an arrangement where we work together to manufacture the packaging for our unique products.

Last week was Fair Trade Coffee Week which was partly hosted at the Labia cinema where a screening of the 2006 documentary, Black Gold, was shown. A film about coffee growers in the Oromia Region in Ethiopia, where coffee originated from and the obstacles the farmers endure to make a fair living. The turnout was impressive, with over one hundred people turning up to show their support.
The second leg of Fair Trade Coffee Week saw us all attend Fairtrade Coffee and Brunch Break, held at one of the loveliest bed and breakfasts in Cape Town, the delightful Parker Cottage owned by the equally charming, Phil and Liz.

A few short speeches were enjoyed from Heinz Fuchs, chairperson of Fairtrade Germany and other representatives of Fair Trade as well as Phil who along with Liz makes a staunch effort to use Fairtrade products as a part of their hospitality at Parker Cottage.

Fair Trade coffee was delicious and enjoyed with some great catering which all in all made for a really pleasant break in the day.
Ukuva iAfrica has had the pleasure of being associated with the amazing Wellness Warehouse store on Kloof Street. Yesterday (16 May), we went along to the store to represent and show our support of Fair Trade by holding an in-store tasting of our latest product, The U-Tube Wine Collection. Also there representing Fair Trade was Stellar Winery: Organic Wine Cellar. We have our U-Tube Wines available across the Cape and soon to be distributed nation-wide. An easy drinking wine that comes in our award winning tube design; we provide two reds (101, 102) and two whites (501, 502). Soon to be added to this collection will be our ‘house’ wines, aptly called ‘whitewhitewhite’ and ‘redredred’ so look out for those.

We thank you to all those involved and for supporting Fair Trade. Can’t wait to see you all next year.


“Nuwe swaai”

Something I love about right now is that things are getting very, very nice to look at. If my opinion is anything to go by, it seems when the world hits a flush of wealthy, good economic times, beauty seems to take a back seat to flash and expensive glitz. As we’ve just come out of a recession, we have also come into ourselves beautifully and everywhere you look design and structure is fashionably tasteful. We’re seeing a lot of inspiration shining through what designers are doing on the runways from the 40’s and 50’s, both economically tough times. Art from the likes of the ominous French street artist, ‘JR’ is opening up our eyes with his eyes, literally painted eyes on the walls of urban buildings. We’re looking and liking in a different way and most lovely of all…things are becoming delightfully gendered. Fashion and style for men and women is different, individual, suited and still aligned. Men and women complement one another aesthetically which really just serves to high light all the best things about their differences. Slacks and spats walking with skirts and heels really does something for a pair.
South Africa could be going through a nu-wave era of its own. There are a lot of people coming into the country instead of going out for a change. First world English and American are swapping their overdeveloped environments for our potentially exciting one and bringing with them a flurry of talent, artistic innovation and ideas. They don’t mean to take over this time either; they mean to follow what’s already going on and become a part of untapped resources. Designers, artists, events organisers, writers, casting agencies…they’re finding a place to express themselves on South African soil and so we begin “Nuwe Swaai”.
Globalisation has pulled us altogether and we find ourselves sitting in the lap of opportunity at this dark end of the world, ready to produce things that were never possible before. Better yet, South Africa gets to relive everything it missed out on when the rest of the world was enjoying the buoyant flavours and patterns of the world’s most favourite decades. Now, our fantastically aesthetic infrastructure can take part and hell, if we want to enjoy the chaotic 60’s again we can. Afrique Noir a la mode.
Design is going places here. The magnificent stadia we churned out for FIFA 2010, are gigantic effigies of the awesome creative ability we can conjure up now we have been given a platform to shine. A light went on in South Africa and reflected like the Northern Lights on the rest of the world. The burning bulb of globalisation in technology allows us to have this kind of impact on them and them on us and thus; we’re all in a smorgasbord soup together and keeping our heads about the tides of trend.
Musically we’re penetrating the lofty UK and US with um, yeah, with Afrikaans zef rap. I don’t care how many of you trendy hipsters have yawned over Die Antwoord. They carry some monumental status and have literally rode the wave of indie-Afrikaans kid sub-culture out of Stellenbosch and straight overseas. Yolandi and Ninja know a good thing when it gets all up in their grill.

Film is having a major revival in South Africa. This time though, it’s standing right up, face to face with international cinema and through the likes of District 9,Sweetheart and the first South African vampire movie ever, Eternity. It’s interesting that we are falling into fashion, a place we were snubbed before and leading at it too. Visually stimulating, artistically appreciative film that is tapping into a pop culture scene that is a pie we’ve never had a piece of before. Some might say that having a successful commercial element to our culture is what erodes the unique authenticity of South Africa. Let’s be real. Technology has taken us all to Paramount Pictures and downloaded a very real interconnection of tangled world wide web that we’re stuck in, like it or not. Having some agency in the setup means you’re active, you’re a part and it certainly doesn’t mean that we aren’t anything else. What came first? Pop or dissidence?

It’s Time For Ting!

I come from a very large household just presently. Since moving to Cape Town four years ago, I’ve lived with many interesting people, on my own, with family, my boyfriend and for sporadic short spurts in New York and London.

Right now I share a commune with sixteen other super people and we all enjoy getting together and socialising either in the conservatory of number 8 or in the garden that is slowly getting there with the addition of herbs, a swing and several pretty tea cups hanging from the big tree.

Being a late-comer to the commune and moving in a good month or so after the others, I was not involved in the conception of ‘Ting’ but was introduced promptly and whole-heartedly and now this incredible game has become one of our favourite pass times and will undoubtedly go down as being synonymous with our time together at The Commune.

So naturally, having all gone through the motions of university together in Cape Town we have as a group drank lovely, repleasant amounts of wine together and ‘Ting’ being the most innovative and entertaining wine-drinking game I have ever come across will ensure that we keep on doing so. I love that it is the brainchild of our commune and that it keeps getting added to and improved upon almost each time we play it, which is usually at least twice a week.

Ting involves a group of about four to six people. Eight is good but more than that and it becomes too crowded around our hideous little foam-green table in the conservatory. Each person has an ‘Avatar’ which is an empty wine bottle. Then there is a Ting King to monitor that the rules are followed and supervise against cheating, those trying to form alliances or skipping penalty sips. Then there is a coin (preferably a R2 and not a tuppance, lire or any other skinny dime as this hinders spinning skill) which each one when it is their turn, spins with a flick of the finger. Here things get incredibly complex and war-like as the person who spins calls out a name from the group. The called player has to then flick the spinning coin into another player’s avatar. You are allowed to guard your avatar by flexing your hand out in the ‘Rock ‘n Roll Salute’ across the base of the bottle. Should the coin get through the hand barrier and ‘ting’ against the bottle, than that person is tainted and it is time for Red Arena. The Ting King yells out ‘Red Arena’ and uses his dork torch (nifty miners’ like headband with a torch attached to the front part) to shine a red light onto the table. The tainted player must pick up his glass of wine and drink from it for as long as the coin spins, after which the Red Arena is replaced by the neutral base of White Arena (white bulb in the dork torch) and the game continues.

There are many intricacies and stratagies that accompany this basic outline of Ting. Expert skills and poised playing stances that are possessed by the most talented of the Ting players in our commune. Their style should be observed, considered and learned. Extra effort can be applied to your advantage in the form of Love Taps, Tinging the bottle neck, deft spinnage and a close surveiling eye at all times in the arena. A good understanding that whatever music play to accompany Ting will set a certain atmosphere. The soundtrack to Tron turned the green table into a war zone while Kate Bush and Stevie Nicks provided a back drop of girly and 80’s empowered weirdness to Ting along to.

This game is totally hilarious and gets more so obviously as you tilt back more Ting penalties.

To find a group of more creative, interesting and fun people to live with would be an obnoxious and silly waste of time when you could all be Tinging along together. A smorgasbord of architects, actors, biologists, rocket scientists, writers, engineers, artists and students creates an unbeatable environment where the conversation rings and tings around our commune. Our small speck of the Cape Town eco-system in which a lot of interesting talk and creativity bubbles through the symposium of Ting.

It is this kind of gathering that invites the interesting, easy-drinking and design savvy wine from Ukuva; The U-Tube. When you all love hanging out together and drinking great quality wine, it’s just easier to have it on tap and keep those bottles for Avatars…

What do I know?

What do I know?
South African wine (because it’s supposed to be tops) is one of those finicky little things that people become fundi-ish about, if I may use such gross terms. You could also become pedantic about correct vocabulary when writing but seeing as I have systematically shown I am neither fundi nor Flaubert, perfection is not exactly something I’m shooting for. I never have really. I know what I like, that being a good glass of red and typing out pretty streams of consciousness, often at the same time. A recipe in its own way. A mixology of mind and Merlot.

So what do I know about wine. Well, hark back over the years and try dig something out to work with so I can try and pull a part why I have a certain affinity for the drink of the gods and not something else, say, herbal teas for example. Now that is something in itself, I mean the herbal tea fetish so many voguey yogis are mad for, that I just cannot understand. While I may not be able to nose my way through the oak and honey hues of various South African Wines, I can tell you that herbal tea never, without fail serves to taste of stick and boredom.

Wine though…there is a spark of excellence in the discourse of Dionysus’s drink of choice. For me it just has very little to do with heritage, religious rites nor rituals and who gives a toss about champagne being from Champagne or not? Bubbles equals champers to me and trust me, it’s just as fun not knowing the vintage as it is obsessing over it.

One of the things I love about Cape Town, my home city, is its strong winey roots. With wine-lands mopping up most of the beautiful countryside around this city, it is practically impossible to not drink wine in this place. Where else in the world do you see first years recklessly indulging in Wine Club on the steps of the University? Even our homeless teeter around on the tipsy streets, papsak en al. In the same breath, I am positive there are some serious wine drinkers around here, who know all the ins and outs. I’ve seen the prices at the bottle store. Somebody somewhere is having a taste explosion over their perfectly complimentary supper and that is truly awesome for them. However, in all honesty, I am not one such person.

When you come from the city of golden, beautiful, poetic and creative Cape Town, let’s admit that the appeal of pretentious bollocks is rather strong compared to other geographical areas. I speak generally you understand, but then don’t forget we are talking wine here folks. It’s so refreshing therefore to find a wine that is straight out of the Cape, that has the quality and top-class design without being very expensive or having a cork up it’s bum. The newest product from Ukuva iAfrica is the U-Tube and it slots into a niche that desperately needed to be filled with something that hi-rollers and lo-fi wine lovers can all enjoy comfortably. The completely original design of the U-Tube is the gorgeous vessel that stores the equivalent and quality of two bottles of wine in a bag with a tap. No box, no bottle: U-Tube. It’s therefore pretty decent value for money as well as being a African wine product of the World Fair Trade Organisation. It’s pop art with a heart.

But what do I know? See this space tomorrow and perhaps something will have surfaced from the winey, watery recesses of my mind. Until then, do check out The U-Tube and let us know what you think about this South African wine.

Irony is a funny thing

Irony is a funny thing. I am quite a funny thing too. I’m a 22 year old, white woman who spends her day thinking and writing about wine, something I have no real or honest clue about. You could pass me a vat of vinegar and a flute of something French and I would be able to tell you little, or nothing about why they are different, why one has terrior (great word isn’t it?) and why one is for chips. Yet, it is my daily bread and butter to turn words into wine. Now that’s ironic.

I do love wine though and the puce stamp of approval is often stained on my lips for all to see. What I have been thinking wine-wise lately, is why do I buy one wine over the other? Why does anyone? Why do you? Do you know everything there is to know about nuances and is your nose always in the glass? I doubt it. In fact, I’d never believe you if you said, that yes, in fact you were well-clued up on the pH levels of pinot grape soil. Ahem. Most of you out there are just like me and look at what the wine comes in first and second if we can afford it. The label must be acceptably attractive, the booze not actually in a flagon, yet not too fancy in a tussled gift box and on the top shelf with the price well out of eye’s reach.

Let me relate to you my recent wine purchases and how I went about choosing what. Well, there was an evening where a group of friends and myself decided to go to the cinema and check out the latest Coen brothers flick. Unfortunately it was all sold out and we were turned away (I’ve since see the movie and it’s rubbish but don’t get me started on that because Film is something I am actually qualified to talk about and I’d much rather talk myself into a hole about wine). So as it happened we all decided to run out to whatever late night liquor outlet we knew of to get a hold of some wine so we could all gather together at one house under lubricated ease.

A friend of mine and I scanned the scanty wine shelves of some Friendly Grocer type store and spoke about what looked ‘decent’. We laughed at the giant hillbilly-esque bottles (oxymoron or what?) and remembered our shameful youth. Neither one of us is particularly into Graca so that was a no go and otherwise there were only a few bottles of truly bizarre looking stuff that we didn’t recognise but could afford after a little self-persuasion. My friend’s eye landed on a greenish glass bottle. The sticker was thick and shiny with gloss. A twisty cap was duly noted, as this is the preferred way to avoid all traditional wine etiquette these days. It was the picture that did it though. It seemed to be an illustration of a bird. I think a swallow of some kind. It was not entirely biologically correct somehow though and the wings were oddly disjointed. This was fairly fun but the real deal breaker was that the head of the bird was in the shape of a bald man’s. I am totally sure that this was not intentional when creating the design for the label. This splicing of bird and bald man was too funny to pass up and so we triumphantly brought that one home. I was too afraid to taste it in the end but my friend reported back that it was quite nice in a milky way.

Then just a day or two ago, I went a-calling on a friend who lives close by and we popped into the shops to get a bottle of red to accompany our rice salad and crisps. Naturally, being a wine-writer, I shrank back from the shelves and opted out of making any decisions. I lie. I did say I would like something with an animal on the sticker. A nice giraffe or something. My friend being far more eloquent in this situation than I, chose a bottle that had been recommended to her by a wine lecturer she knows. I had brought with me some kind of shop brand red that cost very little but had a nice simple label. We couldn’t tell the difference between the two but were satisfied that it complimented the salt and vinegar crisps and copious amounts of cigarettes rather well.

I have a fabulous time drinking wine with my friends but after reading this blog, I think it may be time to up my game and learn at least something about the muse to my craft. Or I could just stop being so damn honest and tell you that the wine I am currently involved with, The U-Tube is a mass of refined aromatic toast and succulent notes of lead and honeysuckle. All I know is what I know. It looks great, the price is right and it works well with my poor uneducated palate.

Beautiful design

an Australian red wine designed by Gerlinde Gruber. Black bottle props. Simple.

The Prisoner, Orin Swift

This one got awful press. I think it’s pretty great in a gothic, Goya kind of way.