This is the time of year to reflect on the biggest stories, events and highlights of 2022. At the beginning of 2020, we didn’t expect a pandemic. At the beginning of 2022, most of us didn’t anticipate war in Europe. While Covid was not off of the agenda completely, it didn’t dominate the news anymore. At the same time, however, Covid’s influence is still felt and most stories have some reference to the pandemic to add perspective. The new reference, however, was the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that had a severe impact on the global post-pandemic recovery. Here are how my top ten performing blogs for the year, tell the story of 2022.
Dare to dream? The Dakar shows you how. On 14 January, my blog post Dream. Dare. Live it. motivated that, after two tough years, we were able to dream again. I loved that the slogan of the Dakar rally, a race that requires such determination and resilience, technical ability and engineering excellence, started with a dream. I thought that was quite the inspiration for the new year.
Is the trend for moderation beneficial for SA wine? Dry January was still fresh in our minds when consumer trends indicated that younger generations drink less wine, but that those who do, buy better quality and are more engaged with all wine’s lifestyle associations. Is a quality over quantity approach good news for SA wine or are we worried about volumes? Excess consumption has never been the focus of the wine industry. In Quality over Quantity (11 February), we came to the conclusion that like everything else in life, balance is key. You need good enough volumes for economy of scale and to service markets well. The industry can’t survive on boutique and niche products alone. But a more premium focus eliminates some of the evils and promotes what we believe wine is all about – quality over quantity.
Forget about micromanagement and find the magic! It was still early in the year and we had many exciting plans on the table. Big decisions, big responsibilities and many uncertainties were on the agenda. I love having a plan, but I realised that such a plan can’t be cast in stone and that rather than micromanage, I had to trust my expert team to come up with the magic. Allow for magic (18 February) argues that magic doesn’t happen when your focus is only on ticking boxes.
Wine might not be priority in times of war, but protecting the industry is. Our hopes for 2022 received quite a beating when Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. While harm to people might be the saddest part of war, such a battle for power does much more: it destroys history and symbols of life and culture, it affects the economy and challenges many industries. Published on 4 March, What does war mean for wine? focused on how a country’s wine story can share a lot about its history and traditions. In times of war, we might have other priorities, but it is worthwhile also fighting for those industries that will be important for survival post-war and to protect our treasured tales and traditions.
Money speaks, but does it talk of freedom? This year we had two great guys from Washington state helping in the cellar during harvest time and they asked me about South Africa being a third world country. Their only exposure until then has been Cape Town and the Winelands and it’s not hard to understand their disbelief. But what exactly entails a third world ranking? Third is on the podium (11 March) explained the meaning of third world with reference to both economic and humanitarian issues. Eastern Europe might be better off economically than the third world nations, but with the current conflict there are many questions to be answered – also on how they are doing with some of the other categories like human rights and freedom?
Franschhoek – a valley of dreams inhabited by passionate doers. While we expected the European conflict to have global economic consequences, the tourism industry could not wait any longer. In March, the Franschhoek Valley introduced a new logo and a new strapline: Franschhoek, Valley of Dreams. Our manifesto focusses on our aspiration to be an unrivalled village for visitors. One of unparalleled class and comfort. International excellence meeting small town charm. At the same time, we want to be accessible. If there is one thing we’ve learned over the last two years, it is that you must bring variety, something for everyone: from opulence to rustic charm. Do read A Valley of Dreams and Doers (25 March) and then you’ll understand the euphoria when our small community made the TIME 2022 list for the World’s Greatest Places. What an honour and what an opportunity for our tourism-focused town! Read The Sun Shines in Franschhoek (21 July).
East Africa – unlocking the potential for SA wine. While we were talking tourism, I thought about the powerful tool tourism can be in the promotion of wine. Look East, but not too far on 31 March discussed how local wine producers looking to expand their export footprint over the next three years, should look at countries elsewhere in Africa where tourism is booming.
Shanghai, Mariupol, Durban – why ports matter to you. Major harbour cities were facing extreme obstacles caused by widely varying factors – from a pandemic to flooding to war. This had a serious effect on global supply and in About Ports and Power (22 April), we discussed why the man on the street have to care about harbour hassles. From the days of the Spice Route, international trade has shaped nations and economies. Port cities offer much more than charming harbour-side restaurants and leisurely cruises for tourists. It is of the utmost importance that they are run efficiently and that infrastructure is maintained so they can function at optimal level. It is important for global brokers, but it affects us all. The availability and prices of necessities such as fuel and food are easy examples. When international trade is hampered, it has a direct impact on what we pay for goods and it affects everyone who is involved in the production chain.
Look a bit closer and find the good news! In April this year, there seemed to be so little good news. The madness of war in Europe affected us all (even if it is only because of the prices of fuel and food), unemployment in SA was at a ridiculous 35.5% and just when we thought we’ve braved the Covid storm, Shanghai was back in lockdown. While denial doesn’t help anyone, we were in dire need for some good news. In Give me the good news (8 April) we found good news in conservation and rescue attempts, in humanitarian efforts, stories about overcoming personal odds and unlikely international success. They made us proud, smile and tear up, but they all reminded us that while it might be the negative news that sells papers or increases click through rates, the good things are still happening around us every day. Big picture is what I always preach, but sometimes it is good for your heart and mind to focus on the little ones.
Have you been counted? Census should make sense to us all! Does it feel like the census happened this year? For many of us it was a bit of a non-event. Why would we participate? In The Sense of Census (28 April) we asked whether the census was about anything more than Government’s tax dreams. With a government that’s often and widely criticized, did we think the Census statistics will make a difference to our daily lives? Ultimately having access to precise data about our population is of the utmost importance to Government, but it is also essential to the private sector. A successful census is in the best interest of all – whether you rely on government support or want to capitalise on local consumer demands. While results of the 2022 Census will only be announced in 2023, click here for the latest insights on our South African population.
Announcing a brave and beautiful partnership between La Motte and Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen. In a year of unexpected negatives, one of the most positive aspects for me, is that we were able to get things done again. One of my biggest Covid challenges was the fact that often, there was no plan to be made when travel restrictions and liquor laws had our hands tied. Despite the conflict in Europe, the rising cost of living, sky high fuel prices, loadshedding…, at least this year gave us room to manoeuvre! In Honesty, Bravery and Passion (25 November), we announced a food and wine partnership between La Motte and Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen – one that sold out in 72 hours!
Can there be a bright side to loadshedding darkness? And while loadshedding is trying to keep us down, in The Bright Side of Darkness (9 December) we found a few reasons why it isn’t such a bad thing during your summer holidays!
Thanks for joining me on my Hein on Wine journey this year. I wish you a blessed and beautiful festive season, time to rest and recover and all that’s prosperous for 2023.