South Africa, Cape Town, June 2010; NEW Vineyard Hotel & Spa sommelier, Gregory Mutambe, has a very specific goal in mind: to make the hotel the ultimate Cape wine destination. “When people think of good wine and food, they must think only of the Vineyard Hotel & Spa,” says Mutambe.
Zimbabwean born Mutambe’s first job was as a cellar hand in one of the biggest cellars there – Mukuyu Winery. “For two years it was just a job to me,” says Mutambe, “but then I started tasting wines. Now wine is a complete passion for me. I think I was destined to be in the wine industry, and being a sommelier is not a job at all; it’s my lifestyle.”
Gregory Mutambe comes to the Vineyard Hotel & Spa from Johannesburg, where he trained and worked at Signature restaurant. Now, after just two months in the mother city, he’s settled into Cape Town’s rhythm – and has lots in store for the hotel. “I have some fantastic plans for the Vineyard, so that when people think wine, they know the Vineyard Hotel & Spa and particularly our Square Restaurant & Sushi Bar is the place to go.”
Apart from the Square’s Gourmet Food and Wine Evenings running in partnership with renowned Cape wine estates, Mutambe says it’s also important to appreciate smaller, lesser-known estates. “So on Monday nights from 6-7pm we host complimentary wine tastings for our resident guests and our loyal public clientele, to expose them to the Cape’s boutique estates – and the winemaker from each estate co-hosts the event too. I really would like wine lovers to become aware of what is available to them, and at the same time I’d like to contribute to and improve our existing wine list.”
As resident sommelier at the Vineyard Hotel & Spa, Mutambe is tasked with assisting diners to perfectly pair wines with the specific courses of their meal. “It is important to give an informed recommendation to your guest,” says Mutambe, “without pushing your own preferences. You have to listen to and read people’s likes, because everyone is different.”
Personally, Mutambe prefers reds – particularly Pinot Noir – but says he recommends white wines just as easily. “The rule that white wine should accompany white meat, and red wine should be drunk with red meat does not apply for me. There is no reason not to pair Pinot Noir with fish, because pairing is really about the wine and food complementing and supporting each other so that the meal is harmonious.” However, Mutambe also gives recommendations on champagnes, brandies, cognacs, and even beer. “Not everyone drinks wine,” he says, “but I can suggest something for everyone, even for guests who don’t drink alcohol.”
Next year Mutambe will commence the respected Cape Wine Masters programme, and admits he hopes he never stops learning. In the meantime, he’s also sharing his knowledge with the Vineyard’s staff, “through training and awareness, so that staff also understand wine and can answer questions from guests when I am not there.”
It is Mutambe’s hope that the wildly popular Gourmet Food and Wine Evenings will continue beyond the current programme ending in October. This exuberant and energetic sommelier plans to introduce wine and food appreciation at the Vineyard on as many different levels as possible – and to as many people as he can. After all, for Gregory Mutambe, wine is life.
Upcoming Gourmet Wine Events – 2010
9 July – Thelema Mountain Vineyards
30 July – Springfield Estate
13 August – Groot Constantia Estate
27 August – Kleine Zalze Wines
10 September – Simonsig Estate
24 September – Creation Wines and Luddite Wines
1 October – Cape Chamonix Wines
29 October – Constantia Valley wines
To book your table at the Square Restaurant & Sushi Bar and to meet Gregory call 021 657 4500; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vineyard.co.za for more information on the Vineyard’s dining promotions.