When David Cope opened Publik Wine Bar in Cape Town in 2013 he wanted it to be a place where he could serve the growing number of independent winemakers he was stumbling upon — or who stumbled upon him. One such creator of vino he recalls meeting was a young man who hoped the wine he had made would pay for an engagement ring for the girl he wanted to marry. He’d named the wine after her. "The wine was made from verdelho, a rather obscure Portuguese varietal," recalls Cope. "It was very good, so naturally we bought it."

The winemaker was Franco Lourens, who makes wines under the moniker Lourens Family Wines and who would later work with Chris Alheit and his wife at Alheit Vineyards. Both labels will be available at the Publik Wine Fair at Turbine Hall in Joburg’s Newtown on Sunday. The fair was inspired by tales like that, of independent winemakers working with unusual varietals, often as side hustles to their full-time "big cellar" jobs. After it formed a partnership with dist...

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