Gerakaris Family Wines, the first and only Johannesburg winery open for walk-in tastings and sales, is bringing Cape Town’s wine culture to Jo’burg. The winery, which occupies a restored farm building in the quaint suburb of Craighall Park, opened to the public earlier this month.
Gerakaris, founded by New Zealand transplant Kath Gerakaris, is a ‘garagiste’ winery – a small winery producing wine from grapes grown elsewhere. Gerakaris ships its grapes 1200km from South Africa’s Swartland region and performs the entire wine-making process onsite. “Here we do everything, from crushing and pressing, through fermentation, punch downs and barrel ageing, to the final bottling and wax sealing – without travelling to the Cape,” says Kath, who has a diploma in viticulture and oenology and worked in several prominent South African wine cellars. The barcodes on Gerakaris’ labels mimic the iconic Jo’burg skyline, making great drinkable souvenirs from a city not known for its wine.
South African wine-making dates back to the 1600s, when the first European settlers began fermenting grapes in the mountains around Cape Town. But Jo’burg’s climate is too harsh for vineyards. Established during a gold rush in the 1880s, Jo’burg is known as a city for doing business – not relaxing under a tree sipping wine. Gerakaris, which sits on the edge of leafy Delta Park, is a place to do just that. The leaning willow in Gerakaris’ garden provides a perfect environment to sample the winery’s smooth Syrahs and Chenin Blancs.
Kath’s Chenins are named for Elli, her daughter, and the Syrahs are named for her son, Thomas. On weekends expect to find the whole family – Kath, her husband Minos, and the children – bouncing about the winery chatting with customers. “The most exciting part of wine-making is seeing people ‘get’ something about wine,” Kath says. Learn more about Gerakaris and its wines here.
Words: Heather Mason