Coaxing collaboration and adventure into a bottle of wine - By Bruce Jack
Bruce has a certain way with words and back In February, we asked him to write us some thoughts on what this project meant to him. Needless to say, it's truly wonderful inspiration
The Lubanzi Project,
Everything about this project is cool. It has heart and soul, adventure and drama, charity and ambition, value and unbridled passion. Remarkably it also has two extraordinary young American men who seem to have found all of this on a wild African coast and coaxed it all into a bottle of wine.
The wine industry is tough. Margins are, for the most part, tiny and the competition is always overbearing. Very few wine endeavours ever make money, so let’s just say this isn’t a good business choice if your heart isn’t in it. You will only survive if you are fuelled by passion.
I’ve seen a lot of passion come and go over the years. When your tank runs dry, it’s difficult to get back out there and keep spreading your gospel. What I’ve noticed, however, is that a handful of people have a perpetual passion bubbling away inside them. This is rare, but it does exist and it normally comes in the form of outsiders who stumble into the world of wine. Suddenly something clicks – they find their groove, they find their beat and the enriching energy keeps flowing as a result.
On meeting Charlie and Walker I was struck by what I suspect could be sustainable passion, but also something beyond this – maturity and strategic thinking. Wow, they had really, really thought this thing through. I remember thinking, I wish I had been so careful in my planning when I was their age. But beyond the passion and thoughtfulness, they also showed a profound connectedness with South Africa.
They had responded to something in their DNA. This is totally normal, because as a human species, we not only originated in Southern Africa, but all discovered our cognitive brain here. This place is home to the human race – it’s as basic and as profound as that.
What is unusual is that they found a practical way to translate this connection, to trumpet their story effectively, positively and profitably. They happen to have chosen wine as the messenger, and both Trizanne and I feel very fortunate to have come across these guys at a lucky time – both in their journey as entrepreneurs/philanthropists, and in ours as calloused, obsessive winemakers.
Philosophically, what Walker and Charlie are doing is magnificently holistic. This resonates with us. All Southern Africans – both black and white – carry the heavy aura of our recent colonial past around with us like an unshakable shadow. Democratically, we are still fumbling around like an idealistic teenager. As a nation, we are still rummaging through the ruins of ourselves to find what we are proud of and what makes us joyful. This juxtaposition of being the oldest home of humans and a new nation make us a dynamic, vibrant, sometimes desperate work-in-progress. This in turn ignites bold, brave, creative solutions and fuels our everyday ability to overcome impossible odds. There is no where on earth like South Africa.
For many this is a very personal, uncomfortable process to struggle through. Others, often finding themselves in new-found power, have lost their way in the shadow of our history and mistaken the false gold shimmer of corruption for redemptive light – nothing new there…
It is not surprising that very few foreigners ever have the depth of empathy or the spiritual energy to associate with this, nor for that matter, try to make a sustainable, impactful difference.
With the Lubanzi Project these proud, resourceful young Americans have not only developedpractical, inclusive solutions to the widespread poverty and disenfranchisement they saw, but have done so in an inspiring way – by making a fun business out of all the chaos.
That is amazing, and I bet they don’t even know how amazing. The world, including the USA, is full of angst; every bit of love and hope helps right the ship.
The wines we make for Charlie and Walker are therefore a super cool challenge for us, because on a spiritual level we want to reflect this integrity; this fight for what’s right. We want the wines to sing of hope and be brilliantly fun to enjoy. Despite our battle-weary winemaking cynicism, we have become invested in this vision. We want the wines to be true, to be uplifting and to add joy to life. We believe in what these young guys are doing. In fact it is more than believing - we love what they are doing.