After the lockdown, small businesses will need our support more than ever. Here is one oganisation that would benefit from your help.
Inkosi wines is a community-owned fine wine brand that’s proudly and productively South African.
As the hot issue of land expropriation without compensation rages on, with both sides of the divide digging in their heels, some South Africans are showing the amazing work which can be done when communities have access to land. Wherever you stand on the issue, there’s no denying that access to land and skills to make the land productive has the potential to alleviate poverty and empower those from less privileged backgrounds.
A community in the small village of Shiloh in the Eastern Cape has created Inkosi Wines, its own range. This was done as part of a community development project in partnership with FarmVision to form Mayime Winery – the first vineyard in SA to produce a community-owned wine. It’s been bottled under the “Inkosi” (“chief” in isiXhosa and isiZulu) label since 2016.
The project is a result of 395 land-owners in Shiloh Village coming together to grow grapes. The group collectively owns a total of 12ha on which the grapes used for Inkosi Wines are being cultivated. Although this is relatively small compared with the overall total across the country, currently 93 021ha of vines producing wine grapes are under cultivation in SA over an area some 800km kilometres in length. The impact has been immense.
“At the moment, we have about 12 full-time employees on the vineyard. During the harvest season (which is only in February), we usually take on 100-200 people as seasonal labourers,” explains Samuel Mthuthuzeli Mtshiselwa, a member of the Mayime Primary Agricultural Co-operative.
Access to land on its own without skills is unlikely to yield favourable results. At the moment, the community of Shiloh are benefiting from their partnership with Farm Vision “We drive the project and are in charge of the financial management. We have regular meetings with the board and give them audited statements and management accounts. We even gave them a full file with all our invoices and proof of payment,” says Lieb Venter, MD of Mayime Winery, the company which partnered with the Shiloh community to help expedite the initiative.
The ultimate goal, says Venter, is to eventually leave the project entirely in the hands of the community so they can run things themselves. “We don’t do things for them – we do things with the community. The whole idea is that they should learn from this so that they can drive it themselves one day.”
Job creation is a big part of the project. As it stands, SA’s unemployment rate is a staggering 38% according to Stats SA.
Depending on the availability of funding, the goal is to push the size of the vineyards to 50ha, says Venter.
“Also, hopefully this year we can establish the wine cellar, because we take the grapes down from Whittlesea in the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape and get it processed there. We export the jobs as well. Ultimately, we want to create jobs here in the Eastern Cape,” he adds.
Having a winery will also cut down operating costs. At the moment, the trucks transporting the grapes to Cape Town cost an average of R40 000 per trip. This year the trucks are expected to do up to three trips says Mtshiselwa, a wine-maker and viticulturist who grew up in Shiloh. After completing his studies at Stellenbosch University’s Cape Institute for Agricultural Training, he returned to his home town to help produce Inkosi.
He says that the collective has yet to make a profit since the first production, but adds that once it does, the dividends will be shared among the community members.
At the moment the wine is available in Pinotage, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc varieties. It’s on sale in Pick n Pay stores in Queenstown. “We’re also negotiating with Spar in Queenstown,” says Mtshiselwa.
- To support the community after lockdown Nkosi wine can be ordered online at: mayimewinery.co.za