Alex Dale from Radford Dale & Winery of Good Hope was in town for the week. Ver 2.0 (the newest recruits of Monopole) had a staff training with him in the morning and we went off for lunch at Morsels after.
I also had the chance to spend some time with him after lunch and it was great. I felt like I’ve been on a journey with him as he walked me through what makes his brand what it is. I might not understand the technicalities of winemaking but I understood the brand itself and what he stood for which I think was incredible.
We spoke a lot about identity that afternoon. Does he consider his wines natural? Yes. But does he label them as ‘Natural Wines’? No.
I don’t push that identity. We’re a multitude of different shapes. Natural wines doesn’t mean anything. What is natural?
It’s interesting because there’s of course certain boxes you tick that would be considered ‘natural’. Minimal intervention? Tick. Organic? Tick. Low/no sulphur? Tick. Are you natural now? It’s a growing market and it is becoming increasingly popular so why don’t they label their wines as that?
And that’s exactly what Alex is getting at. They don’t want to be put into a box. They don’t enter competition, they don’t put ratings, just their name, big and bold.
If people like our wines, they identify with us, and they’ll know our name.
Alex also had this analogy which I absolutely love. He said, “Wines are just like anything else. If you like my book, read it. If you like my music, buy it. I don’t need to put a medal on it and tell you it’s the best. You tell me if it’s the best.”
Many get caught up in this vortex whereby you are constantly ticking boxes. Boxes that people tell you that’s what it’ll take to earn medals and ratings. It becomes a formula. It’s a standardisation of everything; one size fits all. But you can never fall backwards now can you? What if you don’t get a medal/rating next year? What does it mean?
Which is why they don’t want to be put into a box. To be classified as anything. They are what their wines are, and proud of it.
As a small producer, identity is important. And it took at least 10 years for Radford Dale to find their identity. They’ve made a lot of mistakes, tried and tested each time, but now they know who they are. The future is looking good.
It was great to spend some time with Alex, he has given me a new perspective and I really had such a lovely day. Thank you Alex for all your time!