The people in the picture

Perhaps it’s because I’ve become a little bored with my book on South African wine (which has been around my life for many more years than it has been in what is nicely called the “public domain”). I’d stopped noticing things. When the book-jacket photo was proposed to me by the publishers – oh, a year or so, ago – it simply seemed a rather nice one (much better than their earlier suggestions) and I happily acquiesced.

bookcoverI’d given them the names of a few good local photographers, including the eminent Alain Proust, whose picture of harvest at Zorgvliet estate in Stellenbosch’s Banghoek Valley they finally  suggested to me. All I’d stipulated was that I would like the cover to show some people on it – preferably vineyard workers. And that it would seem commercially sensible that it was of a traditional type of scene (mountains, a bit of white-painted building, etc).

While I have a few lingering wishes that it was a scene from some obscure chenin vineyard on the Skurfberg I do think it’s a great pic they chose – a bit different from the usual, and nicely dynamic. Proust is a very fine photographer of wine-related scenes.

It was my friend, wine- and art-writer Melvyn Minnaar, who pointed out to me something a bit unfortunate. While the book jacket clearly identifies the name of the photographer and the location of the photograph, it doesn’t name the grape-harvester whose face is clearly identifiable. If it had been a picture of the Zorgvliet winemaker – or anyone clearly “important” (dare I say “white”?) – perhaps the publishers would have felt obliged to mention the name. Anyway it does indeed go a little outside the best photo-journalistic norms to not identify people shown in a photograph.

After Melvyn raised the matter, I contacted Neil Moorhouse, Zorgvliet winemaker. He told me that the well-built figure in the turquoise T-shirt is Manie Winston Jacobs. “Unfortunately,” says Neil, “he no longer works at Zorgvliet”. Neil added an identification of the person hidden by the lug-box being emptied of its grapes, whose only sign is a white-ish cap. He is, in fact, “Hannes Jansen van Vuuren, our viticulturist”. (Congratulations to Hannes, I say in passing – I wonder how many viticulturists actually participate like this in the backbreaking business of grape-picking!)

So, somewhat belatedly, there’s an acknowledgement that should really have been made, I feel, by University of California Press.

While on the subject of the bloody book – I’ve sold half of those I brought in on my own account and have been offering at a substantial discount on the presumed retail price. (See here for details.) It occurred to me as I posted off another book this afternoon to someone in Cape Town (who was giving it to his brother as a birthday present – which is nearly as nice as wanting to read it himself!) that it’s to me slightly strange how few have been taken by wine producers, as opposed to wine drinkers.  Slightly strange, but much better than the other way round!

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