Ace + Pearl – offering a great wine experience in Jozi
23 December 2015
You can also listen to these podcasts directly from the Old Mutual App, which is available here.
Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now and a few months ago we touched base with the owner of a brand new wine bar that was started earlier in 2015 in Johannesburg. I wanted to touch base to find out how things are going cause often you think wine, you think Western Cape.
Johannesburg is not, I feel, one of the hotbeds of wine, but things are definitely on the up and I thought we’d get his ‘better half’ onto the podcast today, she who does all the work actually. Derryn Orpen, welcome onto Old Mutual Live, thanks for joining us today, nice to have you.
Derryn Orpen: Thank you, thanks very much.
BB: Derryn, we spoke to your hubby Terence around the launch of the Ace + Pearl and some of the things that you guys had up your sleeve and I’m guessing it must be about six months now that you guys have been in business and it’s been an interesting ride, hasn’t it?
DO: It has been a fantastic journey, we’ve enjoyed every single step of the way.
BB: Derryn, as far as what you guys are hoping to achieve with the Ace + Pearl in Johannesburg, obviously the Western Cape are truly blessed with the farms and estates that they’ve got access to. Johannesburg, there’s not that many options, but you guys are trying to do something slightly different, something slightly special in Jo’burg.
Winemakers have been enjoying meeting people
DO: We definitely are and what we have been doing as well, is we’ve been inviting the makers from the wines that we stock, for evenings. We call them Meet the Makers and we actually have them, probably once or twice a month. We invite these makers to be our guest barmen and to share their story with our patrons and to share their wine and tell us more about it.
BB: How have those gone down? I’ve seen some of the names that you’ve had and funnily enough, it’s some of the guys that we’ve spoken to here on Old Mutual Live as well. One in particular, who I’m a huge fan of is Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines, how have the public and patrons in Jo’burg taken to it?
DO: They absolutely love it! We actually had Eben Sadie just pop in, we haven’t had him at Meet the Maker yet, but he popped in about two weeks ago and he brought us a gift, a 100 year old vine that’s now dead and he asked if we could put it up and it was such a special gift and having him here, just truly made us, like be a welcome in the wine community.
BB: He’s an amazing guy, I was going to ask if he brought his surfboard, but it’s Jo’burg, he definitely didn’t bring his surfboard. As far as the wines and that that you guys do stock, you’re not doing the normal run of the mill sort of stuff, you’re trying to make it really different and a unique experience in the middle of Jo’burg, aren’t you?
Bringing Jo’burg an unique wine experience
DO: We definitely are. We are trying not to stock wines that you can really find easily at other restaurants or liquor shops. We’re trying to find up and coming wine makers and give them a stepping stone onto the market in Johannesburg. We’re doing some very special wines, things that people can’t get their hands on.
For example, Eben Sadie, we had to wait until midnight to send our emails through requesting the quantities that we would like. We were actually only given half of what we requested, it’s so sought after. So it’s very, very special wines, very niche, boutique and also a lot of the natural wines. It’s a big trend in Europe at the moment, and a lot of our South African wine makers are stepping and trying it out.
BB: Derryn, as far as what’s developed, is it exactly how you envisaged it to be when you first started or have you had to change the way you do things slightly, what have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in the first few months in business?
DO: It’s organically grown. We knew we wanted a wine bar and it’s actually been such an amazing adventure so far. We’ve had a couple of challenges with regards to finding money for stock and all of that, but everything has just ticked over so beautifully. We’ve had just such a great reception from people in Jo’burg who come and visit the wine bar and we’re just so happy with the results.
There haven’t been any challenges, well, not many challenges that we can think of right now, but it’s really been a wonderful experience and we’re loving every single moment that we get to spend with the patrons. I always tell people, I’m often exhausted, which may be one of the negative things, but when I’m on floor and I’m speaking to people, I feel like a social butterfly and I just love what I do.
So many incredible winemakers out there
BB: That’s awesome. Derryn, as far as mixing things up with the wines, is it difficult, you mentioned that what you requested, for example, of the Sadie Family Wines, you only got half of what you were actually hoping to get. Is it difficult to keep finding new producers and mixing things up to keep, not just your patrons, but yourself interested as well and to stick to the philosophy and ethos of what you’re trying to do at the Ace + Pearl?
DO: Not at all, there’s so many incredible winemakers out there that we’ve basically just touched the surface of it. Terence does all of our research and connects with all the winemakers and he’s such a fantastic people’s person that people just like him. He forms these amazing friendships with these people. He does all the research, so as long as he keeps doing that, we should be fine.
BB: I love it and as far as adding food to the menu, is it an out and out wine bar or have you added some food onto the offering?
Food drawn on inspiration from Paris
DO: We’ve definitely added some food onto the offering. We were in Paris in September and we drew on the duration of our travels and our journey and visited wine bars there and we’ve added a beautiful burrata with tomatoes, strawberries, olive oil, salt and pepper, we’re keeping it very simple. We have beautiful pate’s and puree, we have a divine kudu, pistachio and prune and we also have offerings for the vegans.
What really goes down a big treat is our grilled cheese sandwich and we’ve stolen the recipe from a great movie and people are loving it, it’s really delicious. People have actually come back, sometimes not for the wine, sometimes for the grilled cheese.
BB: I love it! Derryn, if people want to find you in Jo’burg, where exactly are you and when are you open, when are you closed, where can they find out more?
DO: Sure, so they can follow us on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter and we’re open Tuesday to Saturday. Tuesday to Thursday we’re open from 5:00pm, and call last round at 10:00pm. Friday’s we’re open at 3:00pm. Saturday we’re open at 2:00pm and we call last round at 10:00pm and Saturday’s have been amazing. People come after their lunch and come for an afternoon stroll in Cradle Park and have a lovely glass of wine on the outside area. Ja, it’s been really lovely.
BB: Physical address, where are you?
DO: It’s 357 Jan Smuts Avenue, we’re in a centre called Albans Square, it’s right next door to the VW.
BB: Perfect, what I’ll do is put those links to your Facebook page, your Instagram profile and Twitter profile as well and ja, we look forward to seeing you guys again. I think you’re doing some amazing work in Jo’burg, you and Terence. Well done and I hope that it goes from strength to strength in 2016.
DO: Thanks so much for having us.