Henley WAM Festival 2019

When we came back last year there was a rustling in the village.

Whispers and banners floated in the air, there were messages we could not decipher, and knowing looks we did not understand.

Our technical-newcomer-actually-prodigal minds were preoccupied, unpacking and cleaning out. But we could not escape the growing electric excitement around our village.

WAM, they whispered, WAM.

We saw it everywhere, and Baby Dolla did what she does best___ rabidly researched online until she found what she was looking for.

The Annual Henley Wine Art and Music Festival were founded by a group of friends, compromising beautifully of a Wine Expert, an Art Lover, and a Musician. They looked out over our sleepy village and tasted the finest variations of South Africa’s proudest wine, saw the talented strokes of familiar friends, and heard the music over our Klipriver, under our tall trees.

They had a vision, to share with the whole village, with all our restaurants and our neighbors.

For those who know, you know. But for everyone else, let us get into it.

There are 9 venues, several vineyards, even more, varieties, more than 20 artists, and a concert: mounting an offensive against Normandy counts as an operational and organizational equivalent.

We just missed it the first time around and heard only good things.

The wine flowed, paintings were praised and purchased with abandon, the music was transportive and life-changing. People who made it to all the venues achieved Nirvana and Enlightenment, those who fell behind did so with tears in their eyes and called encouragement after their fellow explorers.

We felt left out.

So we, in keeping with the Normandy scenario we count as Special Forces, not Marines more like Reconnaissance, like I don’t know___ those guys in Band of Brothers, offered our services.

Preparations started, and our lives changed immediately.

We went to the venues, we met the staff and the owners, we met the regulars and were plied with food and drink by the friendliest people in our Village.

We tasted Lemon meringue at the Windmill, Dee and her staff literally set us up with the most glamorous table for free. We ate beef served with savory chocolate and chili sauce at Twisted Realms, we were educated in Tattoos by Eric Share, who demonstrated his art on the waiter. We were spoilt with behind the scenes glimpses at new ranges by Cheryl Bosch and Sue Webber and Sharon Hillhouse, at Molly’s Speakeasy. We saw Franco and Garreth so many times we practically became family. At 1904 we moved the tables around, rearranged his decorations and surreptitiously sipped some of the fancy wines available in Peter’s restaurant. The ladies at About Time welcomed us with open arms, rearranging their display for one amazing shot. Mark Gory from the Hound let us into his Restaurant twice, a second time because we got the wines mixed up, we are obsessed with his exclusive bottle of Pinot Giorgio, to such an extent we promised to go back and empty the bottle after the festival. At Merchant Business Class Hotel the whole staff was on standby, they poured the wine us for, arranged the scene and let us wander their beautiful venue on a Thursday afternoon no less. Montagues Family Restaurant prepared all their specials for us to photograph. The delectable aromas of Pizza, Eisbein, Fish and Chips, Calzone mixed with the scent of fresh flowers as we were invited to inspect all the corners of their venue.

We made friends, we laughed and freaked out on a daily basis, Baby Dolla developed a nervous twitch- but it was all worth it.

The restaurants and venues were satisfied with our work, Dollas Production was born, all casual like on some idle Tuesday.

Henley on Klip is like a good wine, or a fine painting, in many ways an orchestra. There are many different influences, elements, instruments, and ideas, but when it all comes together we make wine, art, and glorious music.

We would like to thank the WAM Committee and wish them good fortune in the Battle yet to come. And hope to see you there this weekend, ready to go the whole way, and achieve Nirvana

Happy tasting dollas.

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