The most exciting and interesting part of today’s activities was visiting the Solms Delta Winery farm. I’d never been to a winery before, and I’ve always wanted to go wine tasting so this was a great experience for me. The wines that we got to try were all very good, and it was fun tasting the different types of wine with the other members of the group. I also thought it was really cool to have an actual picnic with real picnic baskets, as that’s another thing I’ve always wanted to do. The weather was great and the day was for the most part very comfortable, so it was the perfect day for walking around.
While touring the winery, the best part about the trip was getting to meet Mercia Malan, a woman who grew up on the winery farm and gave us our historical tour/lesson about how Solms Delta became a winery over the centuries. She was extremely knowledgeable and an amazing storyteller. She was very captivating and kept all of us engaged – my mind never once wandered off to think about anything else while she was talking and sharing her stories. I particularly liked how she framed her story at the beginning when she spoke about the previous owners of the farm’s land, and how the people living on the land during those times became very skeptical of yet another new ownership because of the horrible things the other owners had done to destroy the land and the community/property. Mercia got really animated while telling her stories, often acting out certain scenarios in order to give her audience a better feel for what was being explained. She was also very into the little music lesson she gave us, going over the history of many different musical instruments such as the flute and the drum. She sang and played for us at the end of the tour, and that was really exciting to see because she used the original versions of the instruments we know today to perform (as well as some other instruments that are not used or are not common in the United States). In essence, she made the winery experience super fun, and she was extremely informative. I felt like I had actually learned a whole lot after leaving there today.
Another thing I’ll mention about the winery is how it connects to the concept of memory and commemorating people or places of historical value. When Mercia talked about the history of the winery, it made me think about how South African people feel the desire to tell their stories to whoever will listen. Instead of this location simply being a regular winery, it’s been expanded to include an actual museum that explains the history of the land and its people by using real panels of information and pictures just like you’d see in a regular museum anywhere else. It was great to see this duality of taking a modern place and incorporating its history into the visitors’ experiences. In other words, it was great to be able to see a different way that South Africans have chosen to represent and present their pasts.