Wine is big business in South Africa, raking in $3 billion a year. Until recently, however, Black South Africans were shut out of the industry because they were either removed from ineyard land or forced to work in slave-like conditions. Now, new government policies looking to undo many of the racist policies that kept Blacks out of the industry have encouraged many to try their hand at winemaking.
Although South African wineries date back to the 1700s, there are only a handful of Black winemakers. Despite the challenges, however, Black-owned vineyards are capitalizing on the growing popularity of wine among the country’s Black majority.
Vineyards like the family-owned M’hudi wines, Bayede, which is the brand created by Zulu royalty King Goodwill Zwelethini, and Thandi, which is owned by 250 farmers and their families, are not only capitalizing on the growing trend, but also provide jobs for many local residents.
Malmesy Rangak, CEO of M’hudi wines, said that many in her family gave up well-paying jobs to start their winery. However, for Rangak and her family, the rewards far outweigh the risks.
“Unless we take the risk, a calculated risk, we will forever complain that the industry is not transforming. Somebody like us and others who took the risk have to lead the way,” she told Reuters.