Klein Goederus changes the narrative for farmworkers and black farm owners

When you meet the owner of Klein Goederust, a boutique wine farm in Franschhoek, you immediately get a sense of someone who loves the land, the vineyards and the produce they create on this quaint estate in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Western Cape.

Paul Siguqa and his wife Makhosazana, also known as Khosi, are owners of the first 100% black-owned wine farm in Franschhoek.  The couple bought the farm partly because of sentiment, but also as a business opportunity.

Paul grew up on Backberg Wine Estate, not too far from Klein Goederust.  He is the son of a farm laborer who taught him and his sister to reach beyond the farm gates and follow careers that will give them better opportunities in life.  Their mom worked on a farm all her life and she was determined to break the cycle of poverty by teaching her children the value of education.  Paul joined the advertising sales team, working for Media 24 in Cape Town and Gauteng for a number of years before he started his own Communications Company.  “But I always wanted to come back”, says this multi-skilled entrepreneur.

In 2015 he started exploring the possibilities of buying a farm and found this run-down property in the Franchhoek valley.

Klein Goederus is a 10ha farm established in 1905 and Paul and his wife decided to keep the name due to the heritage value it offered, but also to add their own legacy to the history of the farm.  They bought the farm with own funds and invested a significant amount to renovate the property and plant new vineyards.  “We want to compete on an equal footing with similar wine farms”, says Paul.  “Our aim is to produce a 5-star estate with world-class wines” They were fortunate to receive funding from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture to replace their irrigation system and recently received a new tractor to replace the old one they inherited from the previous owners.

To establish a boutique wine estate in these current economic times, with the hovering uncertainty of possible restrictions on wine sales and stricter lockdown levels is not easy, but Paul is determined to make his business a success despite the odds.

The neighbors have been very helpful and Hein Koegelenberg from La Motte Wine Estate just down the road, took up the position as mentor to Paul.  “Hein’s support and sharing of his knowledge and network has been invaluable to me and my team.  We are learning as much as we can about running a wine farm.” Paul also joined Vinpro in 2020 and the SA Wine Industry Transformation (SAWITU) in 2021 as member to increase his network in the organized structures of the wine industry.

Paul’s team predominantly resides in the Franschhoek valley.  His winemaker, Rodney Zimba, grew up with him on Backsberg Wine Estate and the two chefs in the restaurant as well as the waiters and support staff are all locals.

Paul is a man on a mission. “Buying this farm is very significant to us as a family.  We want to change the narrative that children of farm laborers would become the next generation of farm laborers.  We also want to change the narrative that black farmers cannot run successful farming businesses.” The farm will also provide generational wealth to the couple’s son Lunga and daughter Zama.

The Siguqa family bought the farm in 2019 and planted Chenin blanc, Chardonnay, Semilon, Shiraz, Mouverde and Pinot Noir grapes in 2021.  The farm is already producing quality wines from grapes they buy in, and their range currently consist of a Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot blend, Merlot Rosé, Shiraz, Noble late harvest and MCC Brut, which was named after Paul’s mom, Nomaroma, the matriarch of the family.

The bottles carry the family crest, the Southern Ground Hornbill, a bird firmly perched in African beliefs as a symbol of good fortune and protection.

The wines are served in their renovated tasting room and newly established restaurant, which officially opened on Friday, 3 December 2021.  The restaurant serves a buffet lunch consisting of karoo lamb on a spit, barbequed chicken and a vast selection of delicious complimentary dishes and desserts. The two chefs, aunty Linda and chef Granville, offers a fusion of traditional and modern cooking styles to cater for a vast array of palettes.  “Ons bedien net lekker kos hier (we only serve delicious food here)”, says aunty Linda.  The restaurant is open from Wednesday-Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Their future plans include their own cellar, but as we suspect, this seasoned entrepreneur will soon surprise the world with the unrevealed plans he has up his sleeve.



Crossing the bridge into a hopeful future

Rosemary Mosia, founder and CEO of The Bridge of Hope Wines, never imagined that she would own a wine brand one day.  Coming from a financial and accounting career in a parastatal and corporate environment, she systematically crossed a bridge and transitioned into a new industry she gradually got to know and love.

Discovering the world of wine

Rosemary’s discovery of the world of wine can almost relate to peeling an onion. Every engagement was like a new layer being peeled off to bring her closer to the core of her future business venture.

Her first introduction to wine was through an impromptu invitation by friends in 2001 to accompany them to a wine farm in Stellenbosch.  The whole experience was new to her, but she was intrigued by the beauty and ambience of the surroundings and the culture of wine.

Rosemary’s knowledge in wine was further deepened when she did a research project on the South African wine industry as part of her Master’s Degree in Business Leadership.  Being the thorough person that she is, she read every magazine and publication she could find that had information about wine and the wine industry.

A few years later, another layer was peeled when Rosemary was asked by another friend to attend a Wesgro event on her behalf.  This is where she met Nondumiso Pikashe, owner of Ses’fikile Wines.  Nondumiso took Rosemary under her wing and taught her everything she knew about wine and the wine industry.  Rosemary soon gained international experience when she represented Ses’fikile Wines in China as part of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture delegation and also at a trade show, the Vin Italy in Europe.  Unfortunately, the wines never arrived in Italy and the embassy helped her to get another South African brand to present at the show.  Little did she know that once back in the country, her paths would cross with this wine brand again and would be the last layer to be peeled that would bring Rosemary to the final step to establish her own wine company.

From crunching numbers to bottling wine

Rosemary had a long and successful career in auditing, risk management and financial management at Transnet in Johannesburg before she transferred to Cape Town to manage the coastal regions for Transnet Housing in 2001.  Seven years later, the business unit was sold, and Rosemary was given the option to move back to Johannesburg.  By then, her family was settled in Cape Town and with their twin daughters in matric, they chose to stay, and Rosemary joined the new company.

After a year, she founded her first business, a financial services company called Bridgefin, which she could run from home while transitioning to the establishment of The Bridge of Hope Wines, a company where she creates space for her daughters, Moleboheng and Lebohang to add their expertise in law and hospitality and her son, Mojalefa who manages the local sales and marketing of the brand on a full-time basis.   Rosemary believes that her children should grow with the company and involved them from the beginning.

The brand developed with time

The Bridge of Hope Wines is comprised of three collections: The Classic Collection, The Premium Collection and The Reserve Collection.  The business was mainly self-funded, but in later years Rosemary applied for funding from the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) to assist with export marketing.  She travelled to various countries to market their wines and increase their exports.

When traveling was restricted due to the pandemic, they started presenting virtual wine tastings to keep some of the momentum they gained prior to lockdown.  Since the restriction on wine sales reduced income for the brand, funding from SAWITU helped cover operational costs, sending of wine samples for virtual tastings and the acquisition of stock to ensure a sustainable supply of product to customers.

The impact of the Covid pandemic had many unanticipated consequences.  The Bridge of Hope Wines could continue to trade with their existing customers through virtual meetings and tastings, but this method was not as efficient to generate new business.  Before lockdown, they used students to assist with local wine tastings, but with the university’s irregular academic programme, this has become a logistical challenge.

Rosemary is hopeful that they can start traveling again soon to build on their international customer base.  The brand currently exports to Belgium, Russia, Malaysia, DRC, Cameroon, Uganda, Ghana and Ivory Coast and they are in discussions with importers in the USA and Singapore.

An industry for all age groups

With her own children’s involvement in the business, Rosemary realised that young people in general were not aware of the various career options that were available to them.

They started an NPO called The Bridgewell which is funded by Rosemary personally as well as The Bridge of Hope Wines.  The NPO started a wine management programme to teach the youth that are not familiar with wine about wine etiquette, thus, how to open, serve, taste and store wine at home.  They also educate the youth about keeping wine in cellars as an investment and the different career options available to them in the wine industry.

The NPO regularly donate to charities like Council of Churches, Gender Based Violence organisations and the Steve Biko organisation.

Extending the bridge

Rosemary and her children plan to increase their exports to more countries and also increase their local market share in all South African provinces.  They would also like their own wine farm in order to control the production of their wines.

Just as a bridge gives one the opportunity to cross from one place to another, Rosemary and her children crossed from their previous life into the wine industry and plan to keep moving forward towards building a stronger and even more successful family business.



The dawn of a beautiful dream

“The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible” (Joel Brown)

These words resemble the journey that Bunty and Wahed Khan embarked on when they decided to make their dream of building their own business, a reality.

The Khan family moved to Cape Town when Wahed was transferred by the company he worked for at the time.  While exploring their new environment, they were captivated by the beauty of the Cape Winelands and the vibrancy of its communities who nurture the vines – this became the inspiration for their own wine brand, Cape Dreams.

“We knew that it was going to take immense dedication and hard work for many years to create an internationally recognized brand but we were committed and with the support our family, believed that it was possible”.

Their vision was to develop and grow the Cape Dreams brand to be synonymous with wines of superb quality with a compelling value offering that was appealing to both the emerging and established wine markets.

The early years

Bunty initially started the business and built a firm foundation based on sound principles until it was possible for Wahed to join full time.  She thoroughly researched the wine industry, which was unknown to them at the time.  Together they drew up a comprehensive and strategic plan supported with a solid company structure before taking their brand to market.  As the local market proved to be much more difficult than they anticipated, they turned their focus to international trade from the outset.  Bunty had to travel extensively and frequently to source new markets.  “Balancing family- and work life became challenging, but we made it work.”

They invested their own funds to set up the business and launch their brand.  Marketing efforts were later increased by participating in export promotion programmes offered by the various industry bodies such as Wesgro, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), WOSA (Wines of South Africa) and later support from the South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) became available. Over the years Bunty collectively travelled to Russia, Germany, China, Nigeria, India, USA, Italy, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka and the UK to introduce their wines and establish new markets.

Bunty remembers her first trade show at Prowein Germany “It was overwhelming to attend a show of this size.  We were placed amongst South African brands that were big names in the industry, but I remembered the faith my family and parents had in me, and it gave me courage to push through”

The dream takes flight

Over time, Bunty gained an in-depth knowledge of the markets they operate in and started to build strong relations with international retailers and importers.  Their dream could eventually take flight!  Since initially exporting 5 containers in 2010,  they have increased exports to over 20 countries to date.  Part of their success is working as a synergistic unit and sharing the responsibilities as a cross-functional team with a common purpose.

Cape Dreams produces nine varietals in their portfolio. These include a Pinotage Rosé, four white wines which are Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Colombar as well as four reds, which are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Pinotage.

The Khan’s continuously plough back into their company to ensure longevity and help build the South African economy.  They both believe that we all have a responsibility to help our country grow.

Their passion for their product, country and continent is clearly evident through their wine label, which is a boundary map of Africa containing a poetic description of the beautiful environment their wines are sourced from and produced in.

Adapting to a new environment

Sadly, Bunty’s international travels came to an abrupt halt when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world in 2019/20 and travelling to most countries was restricted.  The pandemic changed the dynamics of trading, but this resilient and well-grounded team refuses to be deterred by it.

Keeping to their core business strategy, the impact of Covid however necessitated the realignment of their marketing plan.  This includes the development of an online sales facility as a support base for growth in the local market.

They also had to adapt to changing regulations in their existing markets and find ways to absorb the increased shipping tariffs for exporting their wines.

Bunty believes in personal attention and physical presence when it comes to trading with clients and is hopeful to resume her travels again soon to gain back the momentum they had.

Taking their dream into the future

Building a business in an industry they weren’t born into or worked in before, was challenging at first, but for Bunty and Wahed it is passion and determination that  are the key ingredients of success no matter what industry it is.  They learnt a lot and made mistakes but always remained focussed on their long-term goals and stuck to it.  Even through the toughest times, quitting was never an option.  “When we start something, we finish it”, says Bunty.  “This is also what we teach our sons.”   They acknowledge with gratitude the organisations like the DTI, WOSA, WESGRO, Department of Agriculture and especially SAWITU for their support over the last few years.

Although Cape Dreams has a credible and established platform for future growth, it is relatively ‘young’ in an over 350-year wine industry. Bunty and Wahed are building a solid business and a lasting legacy to leave to their sons one day, who will ensure generational continuity of the brand and the dream they passionately nurtured and grew as a family.


Starting from scratch to hatching success

M’hudi Boutique Family Wines is a very personal journey for the Rangaka family who risked everything to chase their cherished dream of owning a farm.

For Diale and Malmsey Rangaka, owners of M’hudi Wines, their family is the heart and soul of their business.  At the time when they moved to the Western Cape from the North West Province, the Rangaka children were all studying in different parts of the country and the farm was the place they could all be together as a family.

Starting from scratch

After looking at several farms in different provinces, Malmsey found a farm in Stellenbosch on the internet in 2002.  “It was the cheapest on the market, so we came down to have a look.” But once they saw it, they knew this would be the place they would call their new home.

The couple applied for LRAD (Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development) funds, but in the final stages of purchasing the farm, they were informed there were no funds available.  Already committing their minds and hearts to this farm, Diale and Malmsey sold their properties in the North West and applied through the Land Bank for a loan to buy the farm.

“At first, we didn’t think of making wine, but once we made the decision, there was no turning back”, says Malmsey.  The farm had guava trees and old vines that needed to be replaced in phases due to the cost involved.  To speed up the process, M’hudi applied for funding from the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) in 2020 to plant new vines and SAWITU also assisted them to apply for Hortfin funds, which they are hopeful to get approved.

They pooled their expertise

The Rangaka’s are an accomplished family. Mom Malmsey, the matriarch and life force of M’hudi, is a clinical psychologist who worked for a government department at the time they bought the farm.  She is currently the CEO of the company.  Dad Diale, head of the family and a professor in tertiary education at the University of the North West and the University of Johannesburg, left a successful career to join Malmsey full time on the farm in 2004.  He lives out his love for the outdoors and farming amongst the orchards and vineyards on the farm and also manages their exports.

Their eldest son, Tsêliso is qualified in advertising and an experienced journalist who wrote for several wine publications, including wine.co.za, Winescape and the John Platter Guide.  He spent eight years on the farm developing the brand before he went back to advertising.  He still oversees the branding and represents the M’hudi brand in Gauteng. His wife Vanessa helps with business strategy and financial advice.

The youngest son, Senyane, is a filmmaker who achieved top honours for a short film in the Cannes Film Festival.  He is responsible for the marketing material and product development and is working full time on the farm.  His wife Rae-Leigh also works full-time at the farm managing the tasting room and events.

Lebogang, the Rangaka’s only daughter studied Human Resources and completed her MBA at Stellenbosch University.  She works full-time in the corporate world and part-time in the family business, establishing the M’hudi brand in the local market.   “I was trained in wine retail by professionals from the British retailer Marks & Spencer” says Lebogang “and intent to go back to working in the family business full time again in future”.

 The ups and downs of building a brand

M’hudi made their first wines in 2005 and made a name for itself overseas before it started to make a mark in South Africa.  With annual grant funding from SAWITU since 2017, the Rangaka’s could steadily grow their business.   The M’hudi brand had exclusive rights at British retail giant Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom.  They also exported to the US, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Nigeria.

Their attendance at wine trade fairs in China, Moscow and Ghana and participation at the tasting at the embassy in Denmark expanded their trade and export possibilities.  The brand also participated at Tops at Spar shows in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Nelspruit.  All these were supported and funded by SAWITU to assist the brand in growing market share.

“Things went very well, until Covid hit us”, says Malmsey.  “The initial ban on wine exports was a game changer for us.  Our business was dependent on exports and due to the ban, our wines were stuck in the port for three months.”

M’hudi lost most of their existing markets and new orders for the Scandinavian countries and China were haltered.

The repetitive and prolonged ban on local sales put further pressure on the business and they were forced to reduce their permanent labour from eight to three people.  The Covid-relief funds from SAWITU helped to keep the remaining workers employed.

Loosing key markets was a devastating blow for the business, but the Rangaka’s don’t give up so easily.  They got to work and gained Botswana and Holland recently and are making plan to manage their risks.

Changing course

Malmsey’s formidable nature does not allow her to wallow in what “could have been”.  Having the foresight she is known for, she is already making plans to build a cellar on the farm.  “A large percentage of wine sales happens at the cellar.  We also need this to expand our wine tourism offer.”  Under Malmsey’s leadership, M’hudi received the Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2010.

In 2019 they partially renovated the old tasting room, which was previously a tractor room, with funds from SAWITU.  The farm can now host functions and small weddings in the venue.  “We are fortunate that the building has a solid structure and although we still need more renovations, we are happy with what we could accomplish so far.”

Building a lasting legacy

The Rangaka’s are seen as pioneers as they are told to be the first black-owned wine tourism family farm in Stellenbosch.  They’ve created a space for their children to feel at home and are very happy that their six grandchildren can grow up on the farm.

Tsêliso, Senyane, Lebogang and their spouses are growing with the farm, each in their respective fields of expertise, and will teach their children about the wine business and prepare them to take over the baton from their parents and grandparents.


Wendy Petersen lifts the curtain for a sneak peek into the “women behind the scenes”

While riding the tidal wave of everyday work life, we seldom get to know one another a little better.  During #WomensMonth, Wendy Petersen lifts the curtain for a sneak peek into her life and journey in the wine industry. 

Wendy has been instrumental in the sustainable growth and development of black-owned brands and -farms in the wine industry since her appointment as Transformation Operations Manager of the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) in February 2019.

Transformation programmes have gained momentum under her leadership and with her technical and marketing experience and her love for mentoring, she helps wine entrepreneurs in various aspects of their businesses.  “I love the space I’m working in, enabling small enterprises to develop.  It’s as if all the pieces of my career puzzle are falling into place with my current position.”

Wendy’s career in the wine industry dates back to 1993, when she started working as laboratory technologist for Monis, a division of the previous Stellenbosch Farmers Winery, in Paarl.  At the time, positions like these were just opening up for people of colour.  In 1997 she was promoted to the head office in Stellenbosch as part of a small expert group doing innovation and product development on some of South Africa’s most successful alcoholic brands such as Amarula Cream Liqueur, Bainskloof Whisky, Hunters range, Savanna, Vawter, Esprit, to mention a few. Wendy’s career development is based on obtaining various qualifications in product development, packaging technology and also project management.

After a brief period at KWV, Wendy was offered the position as Group Manager for New Product Development at Distell in 2005.  She also worked at DGB as Product Development Manager for almost seven years from 2009.

After completing her BComm Marketing degree in 2017, Wendy wanted to expand her marketing experience and joined Wines of South Africa (WOSA) in the position as Manager of International Projects.  This strategic career move gave her in-depth knowledge of wine brands and international shows and events, which included ProWein and CapeWine.

Throughout her career, and especially as a young woman, Wendy was fortunate to have gained valuable experience from a few strong value-based white male role models in the wine industry, who encouraged her throughout her career development and was very open to share their knowledge.

However, the women she admires most in the industry is Joyene Isaacs, former Head of Department of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and now Chairperson of the Agricultural Marketing Council.  “I like Joyene’s leadership style and the fact that she’s direct, honest, very loyal and most importantly, that her word is her honour.  These are characteristics that I completely relate to and also reflect in my personal and business life.”

Wendy enjoys a wide range of alcoholic beverages, depending on the occasion, the cuisine or her mood at a particular point in time, but her wine preference is a good Cab Franc, Chardonnay, or Petit Sirah, which she gladly shares with her most favourite person, her husband Stewart.  “Pairing the right wine or drink with the right food gives us so much pleasure and creates many special moments for Stewart and me.”

The two also share a love for wine tourism experiences. “We are blessed to live within 30 minutes of the most beautiful wine regions, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Wellington and of course Paarl, which is right on our doorstep.”  But they also gladly venture further to the Hemel-en-Aarde and Elgin Valley regions, as well as Robertson and the Swartland, depending on their adventurous mood. “We appreciate every wine region for what it is and what each one unique offering is”

Wendy is a doer and nurturer by nature, and instead of words to live by, she lives by actions, which is handling all people, no matter who they are and where they come from, with respect and dignity.  She believes that living with your values, morals and faith every day and in all aspects of your life, forms the basis in which good decisions can be made.  “These are also the values that Stewart and I instil in our children, Sydney and Storm”.


Thokozani celebrates major achievements in the most challenging times

Thokozani, meaning ‘rejoice’ or ‘celebrate’ in Zulu, is the perfect name to reflect the people behind this brand, who make a point of celebrating every achievement, no matter how big or small.  “Building a brand from scratch is no easy task, but by celebrating every achievement, it motivates us to do better and work harder to reach our goals”, says Denise Stubbs, Managing Director and majority shareholder through sweat equity of Thokozani.   Apart from winning many awards for their wines in the past, their joy reached new heights when their newly released Cabernet Franc 2019 was awarded three trophies at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine show 2021.  It also received the Grand Cru medal, double platinum and a spot on the Top 100 in the 2021 National Wine Challenge.  Thokozani also announced its acquisition of majority shareholding in the Diemersfontein Wine Brand earlier this year where Denise was selected and appointed to represent Thokozani on the Board of Diemersfontein.

“These major achievements all happened in an unprecedented time in the wine industry and the world for that matter, with the Covid-19 pandemic that challenged us on so many levels,” says Denise.

Thokozani’s wine is the first and currently only black-owned brand, under the Ovation brand, to sign exclusivity with Woolworths on a national level.  “We achieved this important milestone in our business’ development because of the quality of our wines and adherence to the strict requirements Woolworths set for us.  We would never get a national listing only because we’re black-owned”, says Denise.

But exclusivity comes at a price, and Thokozani simply didn’t have the cash flow to support such a large order.  Knowing when to ask for help is one of Denise’s strengths in business.  She approached the South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU), Diemersfontein and the SA Liquor and Brandy Association (SALBA), who connected her with KWV, for interest free loans.  “We weren’t looking for hand-outs, but rather a helping hand to cover the investment costs.  Woolworths required a specific blend and a large quantity of it needed to be bottled. We paid back the loans with the income we received from the order.”   SAWITU played a vital role in the Woolworths transaction and continued their financial support for the following five years due to the significant amounts required for this purchase order.

Thokozani was born from Diemersfontein’s owners, David and Sue Sonnenberg’s desire to do transformation differently.  The company is built on a shareholding model, with its biggest asset in property to allow for a solid capital foundation and sustainability for the company to develop from.

Initially, shares were awarded to workers based on a set of qualifying criteria and workers could choose to contribute a small percentage of their salaries to acquire more shares until all of the shares were allocated. Thokozani also manages the conference facility on Diemersfontein Estate as an additional income stream.

Denise played a key role in the establishment of the Thokozani Group of Companies and David, being involved in Thokozani’s growth path from the start, provides guidance on their long-term planning and expansion models.  “Our business model is developed to ensure sustainability and job security for workers,” says Denise.

 Difficult times

When Covid-19 hit South Africa in March 2020, the irregular and prolonged bans on alcohol sales caught the wine industry off-guard and threatened the same job security Thokozani seeks to protect.  “With the sudden loss of income at critical times in our wine production cycle and peak tourist seasons, we were seriously concerned about our wines piling up in storage and our inability to pay our workers’ salaries.  Thankfully SAWITU offered a Covid relief fund for a period of nine months, which greatly assisted us to keep our people employed.”

Life before Covid-19

“It’s almost surreal to think back to life before Covid.  So much has changed in such a small space of time.”  Denise, who leads by example, actively participated in many national and international trade shows as part of Thokozani’s brand positioning strategy.  With the assistance of SAWITU, they participated in international wine shows such as Prowein Germany and Prowein China and traveled to Scandinavia, where they had engagements with the embassies in Denmark and Sweden as well as major beverage retailers Systembolaget in Sweden, Vinmonopolet in Norway and ALKO in Finland.

Their trade mission to Ghana, in collaboration with Wesgro, proved to be highly successful and both Thokozani and Diemersfontein brands are exported to this vibrant African market.

Back home, their participation in the world-class Cape Wine Show in 2018 gave Thokozani exposure to a wide range of international importers and national supermarkets, which was very impactful for their brand.  SAWITU also supported their participation at the Tops@Spar trade and consumer shows in Durban and East London, which are growing markets for Thokozani’s Spumante and Ovation range.  Resourced by SAWITU’s marketing funds, Thokozani was able to build capacity with a contract post in Kwazulu-Natal to market the Spumante and promote a current employee to brand ambassador to secure and increase local retail and consumer sales.

While they prefer the direct contact with current and potential clients, like most other companies, Thokozani is making use of online platforms to conduct their business.  Life as we know it might have drastically changed, but it didn’t stop the positive energy and innovative thinking of Thokozani’s dynamic team.

Through all the hardship, hard work and successes Thokozani will be declaring a dividend to all their shareholders by 1 September 2021.


Vuyani Charlie of Ikamva Traders is a farmer in every fiber of his being

When one engages with Vuyani Charlie of Koekenaap in the West Coast region, there is no doubt that you are dealing with a man who is a farmer in every fiber of his being.  He is forever making plans to improve the farm and the growth and success he achieved over the last 6 years is indicative of his passion for farming and the immense knowledge he has of every aspect of the farming business.

Vuyani is the manager and shareholder of Ikamva Traders, a farm that he and his six fellow shareholders are renting from the state.  This is also the same farm he used to manage on his own for a large part of the twenty years he worked there for the previous owner.  One of the other shareholders, Emmie Swarts, recently joined Vuyani as director of the business and will be sharing the farming responsibilities.

When the farm was sold to the state in 2015, Vuyani and his fellow shareholders, who all worked on the farm at the time, started the process of a lease agreement of 30 years with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), with the option to buy the land.

The farm is almost 1600 ha and the lion share of the developed land is planted with wine grapes.   They have colombar, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, cabernet and shiraz, which they produce for Lutzville Vineyards.  Vuyani also plants sweet potatoes, tomatoes and gem squash and after some research on the soil type and a keen eye on market prices, started experimenting with cabbages.  The tomatoes are produced for Tiger Brands in Lutzville and the rest of the vegetables are delivered to markets in Cape Town.

The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t skip this keen farmer and their farming business.  Due to the repetitive bans on alcohol sales and reduced intake of grapes from the cellar, they had to reduce the temporary labour on the farm. “Emerging farmers don’t have reserve funds to fall back on, which makes it very difficult to sustain employment and continue to farm productively”, says Vuyani.  The SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit provided Covid-19 relief funds for three months during the first phase of the pandemic.  During normal peak harvest time, Ikamva employs between 70-80 temporary workers.

A challenging start to their new life

When Ikamva Traders took over the farm, the worker houses were in a derelict state, with cracking walls, leaking roofs, no running water inside and no proper bath- and toilet facilities inside the houses.  With no support from government or industry structures at the time, Vuyani had to borrow money and make many plans to keep the farm running and prioritize the most urgent upgrades.  They built a storage room with own funds to secure their implements and equipment.

“When Lutzville Vineyards required all producers delivering grapes to them to be WIETA accredited, I wanted to run away”, says Vuyani.  “We were already battling to restore the farm after the previous owner’s neglect of the infrastructure and equipment.  Ikamva simply didn’t have the capital to do the upgrades required for the WIETA audit.”

But the cellar didn’t leave them to their own devices.  Apart from offering financial assistance, they also joined forces with Optimaks, who provides an administrative support function to Ikamva, and guided Vuyani through the stringent WIETA process.

Ikamva applied for financial assistance from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) and the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) to assist with the long list of infrastructure upgrades in preparation for the WIETA audit.

The WCDoA, via Casidra, helped with securing the pump house, upgrading the chemical store and to build a wash bay for the workers.

SAWITU assisted with the upgrades of the 6 worker’s houses on the farm. The financial investment by SAWITU, was supported by WIETA, who assisted with training for the farm workers.

“The team effort and all the hard work paid off in the end.  Ikamva received an A-grading in their WIETA audit”, says Rene de Lange, Ethical Trade Administrator for Lutzville Vineyards.

Wendy Petersen, Transformation Operations Manager, says that part of SAWITU’s mandate is to promote ethical practices and improve worker housing conditions amongst its members in the wine industry.  “We are very happy to have assisted in regaining our workers’ dignity and also assist Ikamva with their WIETA accreditation.   The workers, shareholders and their families now have decent housing to live in and their new ethical trade status will be beneficial for their business transactions and this in return will assist in financial sustainability.”

Big plans

Vuyani and his team will be planting 6ha raisin grapes in August, with the financial assistance from Hortgro and is very happy that this investment will also allow them to employ between 20-40 temporary workers for the duration of the project.  He is also making plans to buy their own lorries to transport the grapes and vegetables, a larger tractor for the optimal use of their farm implements, a bigger dam to store more water in the dry season and the replacement of some of the older vineyards.

Ikamva means “our future” in Xhosa, and Vuyani, a-man-with-many-a-plan, is building a very bright and rewarding future for himself, his fellow shareholders and the workers on the farm.


Carmen Stevens triumphs through adversity

The words resilient and tenacious come to mind when one hears the name Carmen Stevens, owner of Carmen Stevens Wines in Stellenbosch.

Carmen had no easy entry into the wine industry when she applied to study winemaking shortly before the dawn of democracy in South Africa.

Breaking down walls

For most women in the 90’s, studying for a career that favored males was very difficult, but for Carmen, being a woman of colour and wanting to break through the man-made wall painted ‘reserved for whites’, it was even more extreme.  Being declined twice due to her race, she eventually forced the college to accept her, and was subjected to the worst levels of racism and victimization during her student years at Elsenburg College.

When fellow students told her she would never graduate from this college, her determination to finish what she started paid off, and Carmen made history when she became the first black person and black female to qualify as winemaker in South Africa in 1995.

It starts with a goal

Since reading a novel about a Californian winemaker, Carmen was set on becoming a winemaker herself who would one day own a winery and produce wine under her own label.

After working in the wine industry for more than a decade, she started making her own wine in 2011 and established the first black-owned and woman-owned winery in the country in 2019.

Carmen set very high standards for herself and her business, winning numerous awards and accolades for her quality wines and her savvy as a businesswoman.

When she was interviewed as Entrepreneur of the Year 2019, Carmen stated “I have full faith in the product we produce and the business I’ve built….each award serves as validation for all the hard work we put in, day in and day out. To be recognized for my passion is even more of a victory for me.”

Partnerships helped her push through

True to her nature, Carmen doesn’t easily back down from a challenge.  When Rowan Gormley, the founder of Nakedwines.com offered her promotional space on his online platform to market wines that she hasn’t produced yet, Carmen first thought it was crazy, but took the opportunity anyway.  They raised R1,2m in 10 hours with pre-orders for the Carmen Stevens Shiraz and Chenin Blanc, which more than covered the production costs of the wines.  Now the next challenge was to find a winery where she could produce her wines.

Working for Amani Vineyards at the time and producing award-winning wines for them, Amani was reluctant to see her go and agreed to rent her cellar space while still working for them.  Carmen increased her volumes year on year and were able to rent a bigger space in 2019 thus opening the first 100% black owned winery, not only in the historic Stellenbosch area, but also South Africa.

A little help goes a long way

Carmen was announced as both the provincial and national Top Entrepreneur for Export Markets at the Department of Agriculture’s Entrepreneur Awards in 2017.  The prize money helped her to bottle some of her wines for that season.  She also applied for grant funding from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture to buy her own tanks and equipment, which she rented at a huge cost before.

As a member of the South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU), Carmen could apply for the assistance programmes they have available.  “SAWITU helped me with my new liquor license and trademark registrations, but what I am most grateful for, is the COVID-19 relieve funds, which enabled me to pay my cellar staff their full salaries during the ban on alcohol sales.”

Carmen also received funds for equipment and marketing to expand her business and increase her national market.  Carmen Stevens Wines are predominantly exported to the UK and USA.

“I have the utmost respect for the amount of work Wendy Petersen and her small team put in to help black-owned wine companies succeed.” They are true transformation warriors that has identified, assisted and help grow the black participation in the SA wine Industry in the past 3-4 years.

This trailblazer and very popular winemaker is not nearly done with her “to-do” list.  Carmen loves one-on-one marketing and plans to have her own tasting room on a small piece of land, where she can present her wines in the ideal ambience to buyers and a growing number of consumers.

Charity begins at home

Carmen believes in giving back and has a particular soft spot for children.  Growing up in communities where poverty and hunger are daily realities, she started the Carmen Stevens Foundation around the same time she started making her own wine.  The Foundation provided 400-500 learners with a cup of soup three times a week in 2011.  Today, with funds from the annual fundraising on nakedwines.com, they provide over 10 000 learners from 53 schools with breakfast and lunch daily. This food programme created around 79 job opportunities to date.  Carmen will be increasing the numbers to 18 000 learners with the partial proceeds of wines sold locally.  Running a charity of this magnitude requires a significant amount of time and the Foundation appointed someone in 2020 to assist and enable the Foundation to achieve their goals.

Leaving a lasting legacy

Carmen’s footprints will always trace back to 1995 when she qualified as the first black winemaker in South Africa, but she will also be known for her world-class wines and generous heart.

“I would like to think that my legacy is about opening doors for others; making beautiful wines, wine that was seen as an evil then, now enabling learners to enjoy food at school to give them a better chance at succeeding at school”, says Carmen.  And just like Carmen didn’t take “no” for an answer, she teachers her daughters that “no” is not an option and that they should pursue any dream they set their hearts and minds on.


La RicMal Wines breaks through barriers to achieve their ultimate goal

Running a business comes as naturally as breathing for Malcolm Green.  Having started his first business at the young age of 17, Malcolm developed into a seasoned businessman with more than forty years’ experience in the trade.

Malcolm is co-owner of La RicMal Wines, which he shares with his son Ricardo, and together the two are making huge inroads into the wine industry.

The early days

The Green family are no strangers to the wine industry.  Malcolm and his wife Cheryl started Green’s Bottle Recyclers in 1979, supplying recycled and new wine bottles to the industry.  The company grew into the biggest bottle recycling business in South Africa with five branches across the country and employed over 500 people at the time.

When the family moved to Cape Town, the shift in market forces became very evident.

With rising labour cost and growing unrest in the labour market around 2010-2012, the Green’s had a relook at the future of their business.  Water shortages in the Western Cape at the time was a huge concern, as the recycling business was dependent on large amounts of water and the availability of raw material started to affect the long-term profitability of the company.

“The key factor to survival in the business world, is reading the signs and knowing if or when to move on to the next phase”, says Malcolm.

The family consolidated their businesses and closed the recycling company in 2014.

Spreading their wings

Following in his parent’s footsteps, their eldest son, Ricardo, joined the family business in 2001.  Adopting the entrepreneurial spirit of his parents, Ricardo convinced his father in 2007 to venture into wine producing and marketing.

“Ricardo and I sat down, and we reviewed the benefits and long-term sustainability of the family business”, says Malcolm.

With their vast experience and trusted reputation in the wine industry, venturing into the agriculture industry was a logical next step of their business development.  “The agriculture industry consists of established organizational structures and the wine industry had a history of over 350 years.  It gave us access to the international market and fitted well with our ultimate goal to become the Nr1 South African wine company in the world”, says Malcolm.

Their first breakthrough was a listing with Shoprite, but this was not easy at all.  Building up their relationship with the retailer over a number of years, their persistence and discipline paid off and they started supplying 6 stores in the Western Cape.  One of the stores was in Springbok, and they only stocked one box of wine per month, but Ricardo diligently drove every month to deliver the box, although it cost them 5 times more than the income they received.  “Never give up is a crucial part of business success” Malcolm emphasized.

The brands’ next breakthrough came unexpectedly when Shoprite realized La RicMal wines had a 47% growth purely based on customer demand, with no advertising or promotions to push sales.  The Green’s were given the choice of a national listing with either Shoprite or Checkers.  Although they are in both retailers today, their initial choice was to start with Shoprite, as this addressed La RicMal’s growth strategy and gave them a sound platform in Africa.  They started supplying Shoprite stores in Angola and is currently in 11 African countries, making it the brand’s biggest market.

Funding support

Initially, La RicMal was mainly self-funded, especially in terms of operational expenditure, and they used commercial bank loans to fund their growth strategy.  But venturing into a more than 350-year historically advantaged industry presented its own challenges and the Green’s went in search of funding support for their marketing initiatives.

They received the minimum support from the industry structure responsible for the international promotion of South African wine, but since 2011, participated in various international trade missions and trade fairs, funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Wesgro.  With these initiatives they build up strong linkages in countries such as Columbia, Ukraine, China, the USA, Ghana and others.  To this day, they still export a number of containers per month to clients in two of these countries.

La RicMal was the first black-owned wine brand to have membership with proudly South Africa and attended two very successful Tops@Spar wine shows in Durban, where they sold out before the end of the shows.

The brand’s national and international exposure increased with the tremendous support of the SA Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) since its establishment in 2016.  The organization and its leadership brought about strong direction for black-owned brands, connecting them with various industry and government structures in the country and abroad and linking them with valuable business contacts.

“In 2019 we attended the Tops@Spar wine shows in East London and Pretoria with the assistance of SAWITU.  This was to accelerate our brand exposure since we’re already in the Shoprite stores in these two provinces.  Ricardo re-connected with the buyer for Tops, with whom we already had a long-standing relationship, and we ended up listing with 287 stores in East London”, says Malcolm.

“An industry structure such as SAWITU is invaluable to our brand.  The operations Manager, Wendy Petersen, is consistent, diligent and competent and most of all committed to ensuring success for black-owned brands.  This is crucially important for us, who are seen as the ‘pathfinders’ who crack the market for black-owned brands, but also for future generations wanting to pursue their business dreams in the wine industry.”

Both Malcolm and Ricardo agree that business is a long-term investment and that quality, consistency, service delivery and value for money are important factors for business growth and customers’ confidence in them and their product.

“Look at business as a business and don’t be influenced by any other factor. It’s your mindset that unlocks success”, Malcolm concludes.



Libby’s Pride Wines see the silver lining during tough times

In a time when the wine industry is still reeling from the sudden and 4th ban on alcohol sales, Elizabeth (Libby) Petersen, owner and CEO of Libby’s Pride Wines reflects on her business and how it has grown over the years.  “We have to stay positive”, she says “and adapt to our ever-changing environment.”

It has not been an easy journey for Libby.  Losing her job while coping with her husband’s life-threatening illness, Libby took a leap of faith and started her own wine company in 2009.  In the early years she struggled to get funding to grow her business.  Black-owned brands did not get the recognition or support they deserved, and it was only after the South African Wine Industry Transformation Unit (SAWITU) was established in 2016, that she could start seeing a remarkable change.

“Growth happens when people work together towards a common goal,” says Libby.  “SAWITU understands our challenges and their support programmes are geared towards helping black-owned brands through the various phases of business growth.  However, the most important thing is what you make of the tools and assistance you receive from them.  At the end of the day, it is still your business, and you have to make it work,” says Libby.

Libby’s Pride Wines started with 60 cases of mixed wine that was sold out of hand and also had to be used for tastings.   Today, they sell up to 4000 cases per year and with the assistance of SAWITU, have listings with national retailers like Pick n Pay and Checkers.

Diversity makes the difference for Libby’s Pride Wines.  The wines have been selected to suit different markets and consumer needs.  From the initial 4 varietals, the brand now boasts a series of 10 wines in the range.  These are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin, Chardonnay, Sweet White, Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet, Pinotage, Sweet Red blend and a Sweet Rosé.  Libby recently added Michelle Sparkling, named after her daughter-in-law.  Although this wine is still sold in fairly small quantities, it shows great promise of becoming one of the popular wines.

Prior to the pandemic, Libby’s Pride Wines built beautiful momentum with the Tops@Spar Wine Shows in 2019.  Funded by SAWITU, the brand participated in major cities like Durban, Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha), East London, Cape Town and Johannesburg and substantially expanded their national footprint.  “We made great sales and were sold out at every show,” says Libby.  “The other benefits of participating at these consumer and trade shows are the fantastic market exposure, the listings with restaurants in the different provinces and the after-show sales to consumers requesting our wines.”  To this day, Libby’s Pride Wines delivers 10 cases of wine every month to a particular client since the Tops show in East London and other smaller orders to clients across the country.  “Libby’s Pride was well on its way of becoming a household name and it made us very excited.  We hope to resume this momentum once the pandemic is under control.”

“One thing that we are really proud of, is our Chardonnay that came in 6th out of 100 at a blind tasting during the Tops show in Durban.  This surprised many of the panel members, but particularly one of the most prestigious sommeliers in the country,” Libby said with a little giggle of joy.  “This made me so proud to be a black-owned brand and to shift the perspective about the quality of our wines.”

International market growth is still a challenge.  “Continued visibility and consistency in the market, and especially after show follow-up are key growth factors”, says Libby.  Wines are currently exported to China and Botswana due to the support of SAWITU and to Denmark due to a personal connection of Libby’s. “Although the quantities are still low, we are happy to have tripled our exports to Denmark since 2019”.  The brand also participated in a consumer and trade show in Accra, Ghana in 2019.  Libby loves the vibe of this African city, the friendly Ghanaian people and the promise of support by the many fellow South Africans who relocated there.   “I’m very excited to export there in future, but unfortunately the current logistics and infrastructure are too high of a risk at the moment.  Wines are not stored under the right conditions, influencing the quality of the wine and risking the reputation of my brand.”

Administrative challenges that SAWITU assisted with are VAT registration, financial mentorship and acquiring a liquor license for Libby’s Pride Wines.  These are important steps to independence and invaluable to small businesses to operate legally in South Africa.

The effect of regulatory and legislative changes during the pandemic is detrimental for growing businesses.  “The erratic alcohol bans did immense damage to the wine industry and threatened the livelihood of my business,” says Libby.  “Thankfully the COVID Relief Funds administered by SAWITU helped us to “breathe” and scrape through until we could pick up our sales again. Loyal and new customers really came through for us by placing orders during the restrictions and patiently waited for deliveries once the bans were lifted.  We are eternally grateful to you!”

“My business grows exponentially with different forms of assistance and support since we became members of SAWITU, but one of the things that picks me up on a bad day and makes every successful business deal more special, is the personal attention of Wendy Petersen, the Operations Manager of SAWITU.  I cannot measure it in rands and cents, but it is invaluable to me as a person and renews my hope for a better future for black-owned brands in South Africa.”