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‘04 Fairvalley Pinotage

In baseball a triple-threat is a player that can run, field and hit.  In the world of dating a triple-threat is a girl (or a guy) that is attractive, smart AND has something on the ball related to a career.  In wine, my view of a triple-threat is a wine that is delicious, a value AND has some sort of message or cause related to it that I can rally behind.

A triple-threat in spades, let me introduce you to the ’04 Fairvalley Pinotage

Still something of a mystery in the U.S., Pinotage, South Africa’s signature grape, is a viticultural cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault and, according to the web site, can be made in several different styles: young, light, and fruity, like Beaujolais, deep and rich like a Cotes du Rhone or Zinfandel, or elegant and restrained like Bordeaux.

The Fairvalley is definitely more in line with a Cotes du Rhone, with an immediate richness that may actually have you thinking Central Coast Pinot and not imported Pinotage.

Adjoining Fairview Estates in South Africa run by Charles Back, vintner of Goats Do Roam, a tongue-in-check South African play on Cotes du Rhone, is Fairvalley, a post-Apartheid winemaking community of 60 + black families dedicated to crafting high-quality, reasonably priced wines.

The Fairvalley Workers Association was set-up in 1997 with a government grant and land donated by Back in order to create a profit entity that would support the families of the Association members and create a profit stream to create housing for those same families.

Imported by Vinnovative Imports (, Fairvalley is one of the very first wines to support a social cause to receive wide distribution in the U.S.

With just 3,300 cases made of the ’04 Pinotage, there isn’t enough of this stuff to be an end-cap kind of wine, but at just $9.99 this wine is such a tremendous and delicious value that it’s hard to pass up, especially when you add the third, social justice element to the equation.  Don’t pass this up if you see it in the store. 

My review of the ’04 Fairvalley Pinotage is here.


To read a recent article about another social justice oriented South African Importer, see this Time article on Heritage Link Brands


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