Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

South Africa is one of the top wine producers in the world yet, nearly 30 years after the end of apartheid, the industry is still dominated by white-owned wineries.

Black-owned brands account for less than 1% of wine sales per litre in South Africa, even though black South Africans make up over 80% of the population.

A determined group of black women winemakers wants to change this.

Vivian Kleyhans, who founded her brand Seven Sisters Vineyard in 2005, told the BBC’s Africa Daily podcast about the challenges she faced back then.

“After 1994 to about 2000-2002 it was still very much apartheid years. And in those years policies were changed to include people of colour in the industry.

“We really had to investigate this opportunity and our involvement in a very white, male-dominated industry.

“We did not belong to the wine industry. It belonged to a minority group of people.”

Vivian Kleyhans founded her brand almost two decades agoImage caption: Vivian Kleyhans founded her brand almost two decades ago
After facing too many obstacles within South Africa, Ms Kleyhans found an importer in the US who agreed to sell her wines there.

“I’m still not selling my wines in the local market. I’ve decided if I want to make money it’s not going to be in the local market,” she said.

Other black women winemakers say they have also struggled to sell their products in South Africa.

Now, a group of them, including Ms Kleyham, have been given financial support to export their wines from British company On Cloud Wine.

Among the winemakers who has benefited is Nondumiso Pikashe, who has been in the business for 20 years.

“You have not been exposed to the world of wine your whole life so you have to dig deep and rely on your confidence, because you also don’t have networks in that space,” said Ms Pikashe, owner of Ses’fikile Wines.

“It was up to me to feel unintimidated and say, despite the huge challenges ‘I can still overcome.'”

By Joy

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