WORDS: BELINDA MOUNTAIN IMAGES: SUPPLIED
The leafy streets of Craighall Park are an unlikely place to find the heady scent of fermenting grapes floating on a late-summer breeze, but on the fringes of Delta Park a small slice of the Western Cape winelands has come to town.
Gerakaris Family Wines today is Joburg’s only operating urban winery, with winemaker Kath Gerakaris turning out a quartet of wines proudly vinified in the city of gold.
Born and raised in New Zealand, Kath followed up a marketing degree with a post-graduate diploma in viticulture and oenology, after an extended trip down Africa “ruined the possibility of me ever sitting in an office job”, she laughs.
Her African adventure also introduced her to South Africa, and when she left New Zealand to gain winemaking experience abroad her first stop was the cellars at Thelema. What was meant to be six weeks of harvest experience ended up as a nine-month stint at the acclaimed Stellenbosch estate. When marriage took her to Joburg, she knew she couldn’t leave winemaking behind, and Gerakaris Family Wines launched in 2008.
At first she promoted a handful of Cape wineries and was a true garagiste winemaker, with a single barrel in the family garage, but today she runs a fully licensed cellar and winery overlooking Delta Park.
Every aspect of the winemaking process is done on-site, with grapes transported in cold-storage trucks overnight from the Swartland region of the Cape winelands. Once in the Gerakaris cellar they are crushed, fermented and matured for bottling.
Elegance and minerality are the hallmark of her four wines, says Gerakaris, who has released two expressions of both chenin blanc and syrah.
Named for her daughter, the Elli Chenin Blanc is barrel-fermented with natural yeasts, resting a further eight months on the lees before bottling. The Ellaki is fermented entirely in steel tanks, delivering a wine fresh with acidity and bright fruit for early enjoyment.
Syrah is one of the standout grapes of the Swartland, and the flagship Thomas Syrah is all about elegant minerality and herbaceous notes. It also has its more approachable everyday counterpart in the Tom, again a wine made for early drinking.
In your hood: Craighall Park
Gerakaris Family Wines | 072 638 7636 | gerakaris.co.za