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One of Jozi’s hidden gems: An urban winery in the heart of the city

by | 23 September 2022

You don’t have to plan a trip to the Cape to visit a working winery and enjoy a lazy afternoon of wine tasting and cheese boards. In the heart of Craighall Park, you’ll find one of Johannesburg’s best-kept secrets – Gerakaris Family Wines. This family-run, boutique winery is the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city without ever leaving it! 

Last month, we celebrated Gerakaris’ 1 year anniversary with Dineplan – and how they have knocked it out of the park! Hundreds of 5-star reviews, endless comments about their incredible cheese platters and lots of guests saying how they can’t wait to return, Gerakaris is obviously one of Joburg’s hidden gems and well-worth a visit. 

As an avid wine enthusiast myself, I reached out to Kath Gerakaris, the owner and winemaker, to find out more about Jozi’s inner-city winery and what makes it tick.

All the way from New Zealand to establishing a boutique, urban winery in the heart of Joburg, what’s the story of Gerakaris Family Wines and how it found its home in Jozi? 

After my initial degree and 4 years of travel I was frustrated with office life so went back to university in New Zealand to complete a Post Graduate Diploma in Viticulture and Oenology. I came to Stellenbosch, to work a 6-week harvest at Thelema. I loved South Africa and stayed for a few more years – working in a number of wineries. Long story short, my now husband, Minos Gerakaris, is based in Jozi for work and so I moved here in 2008. Each year, we made a barrel of wine in our garage and when our children started school I thought why not bring up more and do this on a commercial basis? Here we are!

Yes, as they say, the rest is history. You specialise in producing Chenin Blanc and Syrah but, if you’re not growing your grapes in the city, where do you source your fruit from?  

The grapes for four out of five of our wines are sourced from a single farm in the Swartland area – from the same blocks every year for consistency. I love what Swartland wines have to offer in regards to character and quality. The grapes for our “1242 Syrah” are sourced from Elgin. At both farms, the grapes are hand-picked early in the morning and go straight into a refrigerated truck that then drives up to us overnight. In the morning we receive bunches of grapes in perfect condition – ready to be pressed and fermented.

What does an average day look like for you and your team? 

I have a tasting room manager and team who are on the ground when we’re busy and open for tastings. My own day is filled with everything else – winemaking, marketing and admin! Dineplan has definitely automated a significant amount of my daily admin very efficiently.

We love hearing that. You offer cheese and wine pairings, showcasing local cheese makers and olive producers. Tell us more about your suppliers and passion for hero-ing local ingredients. 

South Africa’s food and wine are world class. There’s no reason to look anywhere else when we have it all right here! And who better to support than our own family farms and businesses?

I couldn’t agree more. So, when someone visits your tasting room, what do you want them to take away from the experience? 

We want our guests to enjoy our wines and the time they’ve spent in our gardens. As we head into spring and summer, the nicest time to come and relax is on a weekday afternoon as we’re not fully booked and our winery is a little more chilled.

As a successful business owner, winemaker and restaurateur, what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned along the way? 

Do what you love – it will show through in your work.

That’s true! Your guest reviews speak for themselves. If you had to say, what is the secret to creating a memorable guest experience? 

Listen to the people you serve. Speak to them directly and make each interaction an important one. 

While I’m spoiled for choice here in the Cape when it comes to wine tastings, I’m looking forward to my next trip up to Johannesburg – and a visit to Gerakaris will be the first on my to-do list! From Kath’s inspiring take on winemaking outside of the Cape’s borders, to locally-crafted cheese platters in their shaded and secluded garden, I can’t think of a better spot to spend a summer’s afternoon.

 

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