The 2014 Johannesburg wine show at the Sandton Convention centre brought together different wine makers, large and small. Black Diamonds went to speak to an interesting group of ladies at the Walmart wine stand.
“We would all love to own land to make the business work for us.”
Elizabeth Petersen started 15 years ago in the wine industry. Her first company closed down because they did not own land but she nevertheless used her network, gained from this experience, to come out with her own brand and has been trading for 5 years. Libby, as everyone calls her, says it is tough, challenging and prices are competitive in the industry. “Standing up to white males is extremely challenging because the white buyers tend to look down upon wines coming from black farmers assuming it is coming from the back stables,” she adds to emphasise the type of challenges she faces.
Yet her wines have won awards: Her shiraz was awarded 3rd out of top 5 with, R1 million free advertising and marketing in-store with Pick N Pay. She is listed with all major chains and exports to Poland!
Women in Wine (PTY) was established 8 years ago by twenty women with strong links to the wine industry. All of them have worked in different aspects of the industry in marketing, logistics, wine making and skills development. Inspired by quality wines and the importance of empowering women, the company was created to celebrate and recognise the contribution of South African women to the industry. There are 200 women benefitting from the Women in Wine initiative under a trust. They export to the UK, Ireland and Scandinavian countries. They are able to feed their families, employ people and make a profit. They have been in the local market for just over a year now. Their wines are available nationally in all the Makro stores. Beverly says “owning land will help us have more control over the value chain.”
Nondumiso hails from Gugulethu in Cape Town and she is selling her own wines under the Sesfikile brand, a wine brand marketed in South Africa. Of her work, she says, “I work with established wine farms, negotiate with them and then select the cultivers I want in my wine portfolio and ask them to produce wines for me which I then brand and sell.” With a positive attitude, Nomdumiso makes it clear that there are opportunities to make money but also points out that there are barriers such as access to market. She appeals to government stating, “The government can help by allowing our virtual brands to have a home such as a cellar where our wines can be made. Owning the means of production is very important to us.”
Seven sisters is a wine brand owned by seven sisters who collaborated from Pater Noster, after being evicted from their home in a fishing village. Twenty years after that heart wrenching event the sisters reunited and decided to form a family brand of 7 different wines, with each wine carrying the name of one sister. They export to the US and Germany. They are doing well with establishing the brand and reputation. The sisters are not going through any hardships anymore and are looking after their families. They have also recently acquired a farm in Stellenbosch. 21 year old Chane was at her first wine show and is doing her degree in Public Relations and wants to help her family to develop the brand. Her advice to other 21 year olds is very simple and direct. “There is more to wine than just drinking it. You should learn about the DNA, be open to different wineries.”
Nozuko Bula is from the Massmart Supplier Development Fund representing the Developing Wine Brands Programme. The Developing Wine Brands Programme is committed to fast tracking the transformation and empowerment of emerging businesses in the wine industry by support their entry and scale up within Makro and potentially in Walmart International. The Programme’s objective is to assist black owned and black empowered brands with route to market, distribution and warehousing support, and marketing and promotion in an effort to boost their local presence to hopefully grow their reach to a point where they meet export success. Says Nozuko, “There exists a level retail space in that they are treated as Massmart would any other supplier. In terms of furthering their development, we currently have a business course, currently taking place at The Gordon Institute of Business Science which is tailor-made to provide business skills and enhance business acumen for SME suppliers,” she concluded.