KWV Sensorium a unique pairing of KWV wines and top SA art!

If there was one good thing about Vindaba, the wine tourism exhibition which ran alongside CapeWine 2012, it was the discovery of the innovative new KWV Sensorium at its Head Office in Paarl, which pairs highlights of the KWV Art Collection with KWV wines, and which has brought the art collection under one roof for the first time.

The creative idea came from a group think tank, curator Elsa Hoogenhout said, and has given the historic KWV Head Office interior a new and modern feel as one enters the building.  The Sensorium is believed to be the first wine and art pairing in the world.  The creativity is evident before one even enters the Sensorium, with a Reception bench made from wooden staves to which old office furniture has been affixed, being functional seating as well as expressing the differentness of the rejuvenated KWV, one of the leading and oldest (94 years) wine producers of the country, having been one of the top performers, with Nederburg, at the Veritas Awards on Saturday evening.  Using the services of two architecture firms, Albertyn Viljoen from Paarl, and Mashabane Rose from Johannesburg, the rectangular space has a central glass-encased KWV wine display and food preparation centre, with special lamps made from KWV branded crystal decanters.

Each of the 28 featured artworks out of the approximately hundred in the KWV Art Collection, which has been built up over the past sixty years, has been uniquely paired with a KWV wine, based on what the artwork represents or its colouring, a team effort between Elsa and her wine colleagues. At any given time, four of the paired artworks can be experienced by tasting the matching wines, and the four paintings and pairings will be rotated, so that one can study new paintings and taste new KWV wines each time one visits the Sensorium.  I was lucky to have Elsa telling me about each painting, and each is well described where it hangs, with five words that are uniquely descriptive of the artwork as well as of the KWV wine, not using traditional wine-speak.  The catalogue for the exhibition is informative, and contains each artwork, the wine pairing, as well as the QR code so that one can obtain more information about the wine from the KWV Sensorium website.  The paintings are hung in sections in the Sensorium, depending on their wine pairings, being white wines, red wines, and dessert wines.

The first artwork is entitled ‘The Funeral’ (of poet DJ Opperman), and is by Marjorie Wallace, showing his family in one group and his friends in another.  His family did not approve of his friends. Interesting is the seemingly contradictory pairing of the sad theme of the painting with the KWV Cathedral Cellar Cap Classique, and Elsa explained it as representing the rebellious and effervescent character of the poet.  The words associated with the wine and the artwork are: rebellion, reminiscent, icy rain, wet grass, effervescence.

This was followed by ‘Boland Bride‘ by Christo Coetzee, one of his last works, which is paired with the KWV The Mentors Viognier. Viewers of the artwork either love or hate it, Elsa said, and the reaction to Viognier is similar, she said. Yet both the artwork and the wine are complex, being layered. The five descriptive words for the wine and the artwork are: bittersweet, complex, floral, masculine, and Miss Havisham ( a character from Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’).

A work which was commissioned by the KWV is by Piet van Heerden and entitled ‘Boland Valley‘, painted from Paarl Mountain, and is an iconic painting of Paarl, and was therefore paired with the iconic KWV Roodeberg.  The words used to describe the painting and the wine are the following: legendary, rockface, vista, sunset, Kodak moment!

The pièce de résistance is the massive Irma Stern ‘Harvest’ painting, probably the largest surviving Stern artwork in South Africa, which was paired with KWV Red Muscadel, its colour matching the different shades of red and orange fruits in the painting.  The words describing the two masterpieces are the following: joyful, abundant, Garden of Eden, exotic, parable.

Other artists in the KWV Art Collection are JH Pierneef, David Botha, Gregoire Boonzaier, Carl Buchner, Frans Claerhout, Herbert Coetzee, Tinus de Jongh, Llewellyn Davies, Pranas Domsaitis, Elly Holm, Amos Langdown, Francois Krige, Erik Laubscher, Hugo Naudé, Alexander Rose-Innes, Edward Roworth, and Maurice van Essche.

Elsa wants visitors to pop in and enjoy their Nespresso coffee, cake of the day, and charcuterie platters, and taste the KWV wines. She is considering opening for longer one day a week.

At Laborie, a KWV property a little further down, off Main Road, wine is made, with Harvest Restaurant and guest accommodation too, a collection of works by Cecil Skotnes can be viewed.  The KWV commissioned Skotness to produce a number of works, his ‘Epic of Gilgamesh‘ being the best known of these, consisting of 18 hand-carved wood panels in a stinkwood and yellowwood frame, depicting the origin of wine.

The KWV Sensorium is a unique showcase of South African wine history, with old bottles of KWV wines, brandy, and even Eau-de-Cologne it once produced, uniquely paired with works of art by some of South Africa’s finest artists.

KWV Sensorium, 57 Main Street, Paarl.  R40 per person.  Tel (021) 807-3147 Twitter: @KWVSensorium  Monday – Friday, 9h00 – 16h30, Saturday 9h00 – 14h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: Twitter: @WhaleCottage

5 replies on “KWV Sensorium a unique pairing of KWV wines and top SA art!”

  1. lolla says:

    What a clever addition to their marketing offering.
    On the topic of marketing offerings, I thought you would find the below interesting. The irony of the proposal is that Michael has a very poor interaction rate on social media, so I am not exactly sure what wineries are paying for.
    Chris, do you get paid by brands to tweet or write about them? Is this common practice?

    Herewith the mail from Mr Michael Olivier:

    We invite you to join Michael as a partner in his ventures.
    The benefits of this partnership are:
    1 Michael will dedicate a page to your farm and winery on his website.
    2 He will broadcast one wine of your choice per month on the Afternoon Drive Show on Fine Music Radio 101.3FM from 16h00 to 18h00.
    3 Michael is very active on social networking platforms and is able to broaden the reach of each wine he talks about by tweeting the wine to his 4,400+ Twitter followers;
    4 We will feature each wine on his Facebook page as his #wineoftheday, where he includes your web address.
    5 We will also feature each wine on his website under the heading “wine of the day”, have a look.
    6 We will create a page for your restaurants in the restaurant section on his website for a once off fee of R150.
    This package costs R950.00 per month.
    Should you be interested in the 1 minute slot only on FMR, the cost is R695 per wine. You can book as many slots per month as you need.
    At present, with the additional broadcasting tower in Hout Bay covering the Southern Peninsula on 94.7FM, the afternoon drive show is reaching about 120,000 listeners in the City, Northern and Southern suburbs and in the country. They are LSM 8 – 10, culturally oriented, and certainly wine drinkers!

  2. How interesting Lolla, and you should know the answer to your question about receiving payment for our Tweets!

    I am not surprised about your information about Michael Olivier – my friends in the wine industry tell me that he never does anything for anyone without receiving payment, be it on FMR, or on Crush! (is he still involved with the latter?). I also cannot understand the dishonesty in bumping up his Twitter Followers to ‘4400+’, when he has just over 4000! Similarly, the FMR website claims 55000 listeners per week, Olivier claims 120000 in ‘his’ Afternoon Drive Time slot! Even more interesting is that Olivier does not even feature in their presenter gallery!

    I am confused about the ‘we’ in the Olivier info – is he the owner of FMR? Who is selling whom?!


  3. lolla says:

    According to my source the industry is not very “taken” by his proposal as they feel he is taking them for a ride. I wonder if listeners of this radio show know that it is a paid for slot, surely it should be stated? And who gets the money, the radio station or Michael? The problem is that he is embarrassingly persistent. I do not know if he is still involved with Crush! I was hoping you would be able to tell me.

  4. I haven’t bothered to read Crush! for months. Will have a look-see and report back Lolla.

    Michael does appear to have false charm – he made me feel like his best friend at one stage, before I wrote about Crush!


  5. PS: There is no sign of Michael Olivier in the latest Crush! (issue 23) I have just looked at Lolla.

    The readability has improved, and it feels far less cluttered than before.


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