Opening a bottle of Merlot while enjoying a meal at a Kloof Street restaurant is not unusual, but what about on the streets of Khayelitsha? Wine culture is a big deal in Cape Town, with nearly every privileged Capetonian having visited at least one wine farm in their lifetime.
However, one Capetonian is looking to change the perception of wine in townships, thanks to a truly South African initiative – Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines.
As with all big and successful ideas, this stand-alone brand had humble beginnings with owner Lindile Nadza starting his journey as a dishwasher, rolling up his sleeves and working his way up into restaurant management positions, reports News24.
Working behind the bar proved to be an eye-opening experience for Nadza, as it was his first time being exposed to Cape Town’s wine and craft beer culture – something which intrigued him. However, it was the stark difference between the quality of wine served in the taverns of Khayelitsha that really struck him.
“The wine is so bad in most places that people have to mix it with Coke so they can drink it,” he explains.
Fast forward to 2018, and this 100% black-owned business is making a few waves in the industry and local taverns.
“Although hesitant at first, the brand was quickly embraced and celebrated by the market eKasi as a brand that they can relate to and a brand that speaks to them,” said Ndzaba.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, as Nadza explains that starting his own wine label came with a few challenges, including having to gain the trust of customers and building a good name for himself when approaching various restaurants. But the challenges and hard have proven to be worth it as he inspires a new generation of black entrepreneurs.
“Start somewhere. We do not own vineyards, we do not have the skills, facilities or cultural background to start up yet. As a collective so much can be achieved, we need to work hard now to enter these spaces so that it is easier for the next generation to do so.
“Furthermore, I would like to showcase the talent and ambition within Khayelitsha and townships at large. We are more than poverty and crime; Khayelitsha is home to brilliant minds,” he states.
The brand works directly with winemakers and vineyards, with The Fledge & Co. and Saxenburg Wine Estate being two of the big names.
As Nadza‘s understanding and appreciation for wine grows, so does the perception of wine within his community.
“People reach out to me through social media asking me for advice on wine and food pairings all the time,” he explains to Wosa.
Along with breaking stereotypes, Khayelitshas Finest Wines also runs various feeding schemes and help out within the community.
Start-ups like that of Nadza is not only great for townships such as Khayelitsha, but the wine industry as a whole.
“For a very long time, the wine industry in South Africa has not been transformed enough. This project is so exciting, as it allows for more people to explore wine culture, which is so much more than just a liquid,” says winemaker at Saxenburg Wine Estate, Dirk van Zyl.