Words: Lucy Sarah O’Connell | Images: Supplied
The Juliet Cullinan Standard Bank Wine Festival is well known for its strong focus on showcasing only the best wines, noted for their elegance, complexity and distinction. And at the helm of this chic event is Juliet Cullinan: a woman whose passion for South African wines is outweighed only by her love for the country, and who will once again bring the highest quality vintages into the spotlight with her festival this year.
What inspired you to start the festival 28 years ago?
I launched the wine festival to promote Cape wines. It has taken me from small venues to grand conference halls. The wineries put their faith in my ability and I’ve introduced them to knowledgeable wine lovers and helped get their wines served in boardrooms and distinguished homes.
And what inspires you today?
The changes in the industry, wines and grapes, and the enthusiasm of the young winemakers inspire me. They’re as excited and as I was. I love to relive my wine career through their experiences. I’m so proud of where South Africa is in the wine world. It’s so challenging for our winemakers. Most countries in the world don’t have severe droughts or electricity cuts. South African wineries build houses, schools and hospitals for the community.
Why do you think it’s important to champion South African wines?
We’re really good. I mean seriously good. We offer fruit flavour, value for money and great food pairing wines. I was the first woman wine journalist in Joburg and one of the youngest in the industry. I’ve met and showcased the wines of winemakers who now have sons who are the next generation of winemakers, and I believe recognition and celebration should be given to both yesterday’s and tomorrow’s great stars.
And what’s your view on the future of South Africa’s wine industry?
We’re a New World country, just beginning to gain recognition for our talent. I believe our wines will be more suited to today’s cuisine and lifestyle, and our reputation will grow.