I recall some years ago a conversation I had with a French family, concerning my origins. At the time it raised much mirth among them resulting in the only member of the family, who could speak English, confiding in me.
“Peter” he said, “This name, Pinard is a beet of a joke in France”.
I was cut to the quick, because this was his response to my offer for him to sample one of our local red wines, branded, ‘Jacques Pinard’ for a special launch by Distell, a Cape winery.
This remark, once made known to others of my clan, led to jibing that our ancestors were nothing but a bunch of cheap red wine merchants.
I feel it important to explain, before I proceed with the story; that I can, thanks to the research of my brothers and other very helpful people, trace my family ancestry to the year 1688 which was the year of the arrival of Jacques Pinard in the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
So, please forgive me if I was piqued with the French family’s remark, but in retrospect I was very grateful, because it caused me to look further into the matter.
I hastened to the internet. Wiki informed me that one of the Pinard clan produced a wine that was supplied to the French troops in the slit trenches, the ‘Poilu’ (or hairy one’s) as the French people nicknamed them, during the war of 1914/18.
Who will ever know what these poor souls suffered in the trenches of that terrible war that would have caused them to name their wine rations as ‘Saint Pinard’.
Pinard might be a beet of a joke in France in this day and age, but to those who were cannon fodder in the trenches, it was the only bright star in their hell hole.
Then of course there was the issue of the wealth that was accumulated by my forefathers who earned a fortune from the souls in the slit trenches; I dare say, it was no joke to them either, just lots of bucks!
For the sake of interest only: Jacques Pinard[i] through the blessing of his wives had seven children. One of these renamed themselves Pienaar, for some reason that is lost to history; maybe to align themselves with the Dutch community, among whom they lived.
I am from that line: Pienaar
As a post script, Pinard Wines continue to this day. Check the link https://www.vivino.com/wineries/pinard
I am truly proud of my heritage, even if some in France consider it “a beet of a joke”.
[i] I am not sure if Jacques was involved in the wine industry, as he was a Hugenot.
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