RIP, Harold Eedes

Neil Pendock July 20, 2008 7

Harold Eedes, publisher of WINE magazine, passed away this afternoon, one month shy of the 15th birthday of his baby, the magazine. I got to know Harold on an Italian autostrade driving from Bergamo to Verona back in 1996 – a dreadful vintage for SA wine.

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We were en route to Vin Italy in Verona, one of the largest international wine expositions, prior to lunch at a restaurant on Lake Garda with the unexpectedly named Douglas Murray. Murray was founder of Montes, one of the most serious Chilean wine producers, and our lunch was to discuss a new wine test match to be sponsored by SA Airways, after the 1995 competition with Australia ended in a whitewash. Perhaps we’d have better luck with Chile and Argentina.

Alas, the fallout from the Aussie fiasco scuppered that one and it’s been downhill for wine on SA Airways pretty much ever since. On a flight to Sao Paulo two weeks ago, business class was rationed to two bottles of French fizz – Moët and Louis de Sacy – after which glasses were topped up with Villiera. Which makes you wonder exactly what you get for the R34 000 airfare.

We’d ended up in Bergamo as there’d been a fire at Frankfurt airport and all flights had been diverted. Cas du Plessis, then editor of Wynboer, now reshaped as Winelands, was also in the car, complaining about losing his luggage. It never did catch up with him and he depended for the rest of the trip on John Platter for Jockeys and socks.

With our travel plans in disarray, Harold immediately took charge, hired a car and drove us to Verona. That was the kind of man he was: cool under pressure with the gift of common sense.

The oft-times turbulent spittoon of SA wine writing is going to miss his calming influence and level-headed take on things. Harold’s son Christian, now editor of WINE, quoted Harold to me recently: “there are precious few ‘noble’ endeavours in SA wine at the moment, but hopefully WINE magazine is one.” I can think of no better epitaph.

7 Comments »

  1. Siskha July 21, 2008 at 1:33 pm -

    I remember Harold Eedes as a kind and gentle man. The world is poorer for having lost him.

  2. Robert Joseph July 22, 2008 at 10:01 am -

    I did not know Harold well, but I have very warm memories of the conversations we had when he was launching the magazine (I was publishing editor of WINE International magazine in the UK at the time) and subsequently, when we ran blind tastings to compare the reactions of British and South African palates to the same wines. From the view of an outsider, the South African industry of the early 1990s seemed to be a fairly rudderless ship, and it is impossible to overestimate the contribution it has made since those early days. Harold, as others have said, was a gentle, agreeable man who was open to a wide range of opinions and ideas. The world of wine witing and publishing needs more like him.

  3. Avril Morris July 22, 2008 at 10:37 pm -

    Harold (an ex-colleague of many years until my retirement late in 2007) will be well remembered as a perfect gentleman, with high moral and business principles – a man of integrity, compassion and empathy at all levels. He will certainly be missed by all he came in contact with throughout the wine and publishing industry.

  4. Julie Laitin July 22, 2008 at 11:56 pm -

    Harold and I met over ten years ago at a magazine trade conference in New York, where I live and work. He had the ability to allow his staff to learn — while having lots of fun (which I was a part of during some wonderful and memorable meals). A few years later, Harold and RS&P invited me to Capetown to work with the co’s sales people, where I had the fortune to get to know Harold and Anthea better. Harold was the consummate host, and an involved, caring manager who wanted to give his staff all he could to help them become all they were. I am saddened to learn that his thoughtfulness, savvy, kindness — and smile — will no longer light up the world.

  5. Carrie Adams July 25, 2008 at 3:12 pm -

    HAROLD EEDES WAS A HUGE ASSET TO THE SA WINE INDUSTRY. I AM GOING TO MISS HIM ENORMOUSLY. A KIND AND SINCERE FRIEND WITH A FIENDISH HUMOUR AND AN INFECTIOUS WIT. HE LOVED WINE AND IS ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE I ABSOLUTELY INSISTED ON SHARING ONE OF MY MOST COVETED BOTTLES WITH – NORMALLY KEPT FOR ON MY OWN IN MY CELLAR WITH ONLY ONE STRAW! I AM QUITE CERTAIN HE HAS GONE TO A PLACE WHERE THERE’S 1985 LA TACHE ON TAP! RIP!
    CARRIE

  6. sean.shreve July 26, 2008 at 10:38 am -

    I met Harold Eedes at a time when the word Publisher didn’t set bells ringing in my head. He was publishing my boss, the late Jack Stodel’s books(Jack was an entertainer from Vaudeville days then Resident Director of Schlesinger Organisation in Cape Town). The book I worked on with Jack was called “The Audience is Waiting” and to my dismay I found it at the CNA a while afterwards marked down to 5 cents! I don’t think Harold necessarily backed best sellers but he was dedicated to conserving social history. He published books that are long gone and should not be for they depict the life at the Cape during a time when this wasn’t chronicled. He was such a kind man and as a gauche 19 year old, I was so grateful for his courtliness. Unlike Jack’s other visitors he took time to speak with me and didn’t leer down my blouse.
    My condolences to his friends and family.
    Emile Liebenberg Shreve 26th July 2008

  7. Danie Nel August 13, 2008 at 12:50 pm -

    I met him only a few times, but as a client of mine, I’m very saddened to hear of his passing. Wine Mag has been one of the absolute joys of my career and I only wish the family and friends, colleagues and associates my sincerest condolences.

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