grapes 126

Reminiscing under the oak tree with Louis Kriel

Fredo has been looking forward to this day! Seen Louis Kriel again has been on the agenda for some time, but recent work commitments have prevented us from getting together.

Fredo and Louis had a very close working relationship for most of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Working with him was an experience to say the least! We first met in 1980 when Alex van Niekerk, that colorful Hex River grape grower invite us to his farm. At the time Fredo was finishing his first decade in radio journalism and was also ready to embark on something new.

8 jan grapes jdk 043Louis had just join the fruit sector and around the table at Alex’s home he invited Fredo for a chat at his office. Louis explained that he was looking for someone to manage the fruit industry’s communication plan. We made a deal and for the next two decades Fredo worked for Louis during both the difficult times of sanctions and the glorious reopening of the world’s markets for South African fruit after the release of Nelson Mandela and the start of our new democracy.

The need to see Louis again now at his home where he retired on the bank of a tributary of the Eerste River between Stellenbosch and Somerset-West had been enhanced by Fredo embarking on writing a book about the history of South Africa table grapes. Table grapes was part of the famous ‘fruit bowl’ marketing campaign which saw us dominating the major northern hemisphere markets with the CAPE fruit brand. Louis’s leadership and fine marketing and brand development qualities was the key to those successes. 

Cut grape mood shotNow in his eighties Louis is enjoying his retirement and the peace and tranquility of his home overlooking the river, was the perfect setting for our chat. Like all of us who are getting older, the memory is not always that good. However, when Fredo went back to those fine days and recall all those highlights and difficult times, it worked wonders.

In the process we recorded some good stuff for the book. Louis was a tough businessman and not scared to take on any challenge. He confronted PW Botha, previous prime minister who was also known as the Big Crocodile for his own brand of ruthlessness, about the need to release Nelson Mandela. He was also not scared to take unpopular decisions and because of that probably has more than one enemy in the fruit world.

Combo mood shot grapesToday he recalls that most of his memories of his time in fruit business brings back good memories. “There are probably one or two characters I will not remember too fondly, but we all had our jobs to do and that is all that is important,” said Louis.

 So the hour under the oaks listening to the water playing its own symphony over the rocks went by swiftly, was special and we agreed to meet again soon for lunch. “Please make sure that you get here by 11:31. Then it is officially lunch time and we can enjoy a glass of wine too!”

 So Fredo and Janey have another appointment soon!



Old Jan Huppelbeen has reason to be upset!

At Riverside time often stands still when you try to move on. This is the case now that we must secure ourselves against those people who want to come down our road to the river to do evil deeds. We want to put an old fashioned gate on the gravel road leading down to Riverside
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steven biko

Memories of 40 years ago – how Fredo got to hear about Steve Biko

Fredo and Janey got married 12 days after Steve Biko died! We are now getting ready to celebrate our 40-th anniversary – but cannot help feeling that what happened to Biko four decades ago now somewhat clouds what was such a memorable year in our lives. Not that we can claim that we ever met Steve
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Inspirational week in the Orange River – the new world of table grape growing

The Orange River may be considered one of the younger South African table grape regions, but it is clear that it is right at the front line in shaping the industry’s future. This is what Fredo concluded after a week of intensive interviewing for the Story of South African Table Grapes over the past week.
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Concern about the winter rains as we meet growers in the Olifant’s River

In August the area around Vredendal in the Orange River is always a spectacle of the most beautiful flowers – often as far as the eye can see. The canals next to the river are full and the growers are able to fill their dams for the coming summer months. This year it is very
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We move along the coast to follow the Story of SA Table Grapes

On Wednesday morning Fredo and Janey said goodbye to Cape Town to head up the West Coast to the Olifants River. Vredendal would be our base for the first two nights as we research the history of this region for one of our chapters of the table grape book. First, however, we had to get
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Fredo and Janey are back at the river – some serious writing awaits

After 10 days on the research trail of the Story of South African table grapes we are back at the river at Stilbaai. Here on the bank of the Goukou we will review our progress and start writing the first chapters. After experiencing some welcome rain in Cape Town, we travelled along the Langeberg Mountains
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Armchair experts on Brexit cause more harm than good

Fredo remembers very well the times in the early 1990’s, when South Africans were engaging each other to discuss the future policies and structures we would have once we became a new democracy. We remember the numbers of consultants, many from overseas Universities, who did their best to tell us what our agricultural policies should
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Sweet celebration Hero

The awakening in the vineyards and orchards of the Cape will be different this year

This time of the year, around mid-August, when one travels through the fruit regions of the Cape, you see the fruit trees awakening from their winter sleep. In the vineyards, particularly those where we receive our table grapes from, the pruning is just about completed and soon the bud will form. Normally this time of
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We head to the Hex River Valley – following the Story of the Grape

The search for the Story of the Grape is unfolding and on Wednesday we arrived at Brandwacht near Worcester. This is also table grape country, but somewhat lesser known, because it has always been seen as part of the Hex River Valley. From there we started our visit to the Hex River Valley – one
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