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Delhi Wine Club
Celebrating South Africa with Wine Women

Posted: Monday, 04 April 2011 11:49

Celebrating South Africa with Wine Women

Hotel Lalit was busy celebrating colourful South Africa last week with music and wine at dinner and the visiting business delegation lead by Mrs. Elizabeth Thabethe, Deputy Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry, which also had seven wine producers including two coloured women whom Subhash Arora met at the Celebration Dinner and discussed the challenges faced by them.

Photos By:: Adil Arora

As the Afro Tenors- a group of three tall, dark and handsome African singers had the whole Crystal  Room get up and tap or clap while singing a song honouring Nelson Mandela, High Commissioner Rev Harris Majeke who was in a very colourful mood, moved with the rhythm with dozens of his compatriots. There was an air of Thokozani in the air.


Thokozani means celebration in the local African language. It is also the name of the Wellington based winery run by black owners-still not a common sight in South Africa, 17 years after it became independent in 1994. This is despite various government schemes announced to promote the blacks and empowering them through what is known as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). ‘Less than 1% of South African wineries are under black ownership - far less than other South African industries such as tourism, mining or banking,’ explained Denise Stubs-Director Business Development of the winery.

‘Producing about 6000 cases a year, we are perhaps one of the handful wineries under the BEE programme that are successful,’ says Denise. ‘Although we are a part of WOSA which claims there are already 40 working wineries under the BEE programme, I cannot count more than 10,’ added Denise who had difficulty recounting more than five on her fingers for me.

‘We may not be making the best of wines yet but our quality has been improving steadily and we have black winemakers training under the veteran whites and picking up the art quite well,’ she says with confidence. Although her winery is a regular participant in various international shows and events including the current programme in Delhi and Mumbai where she hopes to find an importer, ‘I don’t think it is a great idea to put the BEE wineries lumped together as WOSA does at such international shows. Our stands should be mixed and interspersed at random under the South African flag so we can showcase ourselves as African winemakers and not as an underprivileged lot,’ she feels.

She was also critical of the BOB- Black owned Business schemes of the government under which a business owned by a black could in fact buy wines from a winery run by whites and get the government benefits. ‘This does not really help improve the quality of wine or development of wineries owned by non whites,’ she opined.

Founded in 2003, Thokozani is located at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate which is a partner too. It has 85 shareholders out of a staff of 115. ‘We are focused on creating an international brand for Thokozani wines and have been quite successful so far in Netherlands although we are distributing also in several countries including Germany, Switzerland, Botswana and of course, South Africa,’ says Denise who was visiting India for the first time and was hopeful in finding an importer for their wines that include a Shiraz, Mourvedre and Viognier blend , a white blend of Chenin, Chardonnay and Viognier while the Rose is also available with an interesting fruity blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre and Pinotage.

For more details visit their website or write to Denise at

Cape Dreams

As one entered the Crystal Room at Hotel Lalit, there was a nice display showcasing 4 wines from Cape Dreams, a wine company from Cape Town. But before the evening progressed, two of the red bottles went missing- despite the excise rules that say that wine bottles cannot be taken out of a hotel or restaurant, even if opened. This was extremely upsetting for Bunty Khan, CEO of the Croft Sales making Cape Dreams wines, for no other reason than the fact that she wanted to have some people taste those wines with her during the evening and could not believe somebody could walk away with bottles just like that. Incredible India?!

I first met Bunty in Singapore a few years ago at the WOSA stand as she looked Indian. I was very impressed with her passion to make affordable wine and also sell it to the Indian market due to her Indian heritage. Since then she has been taking part in several international shows, the last one being Annapurna in Mumbai last year.

A native of Natal, with her Telugu and Tamil speaking ancestors from India, she is driven by a desire not only to make her presence in India but also to contribute to the progress of underprivileged in South Africa. She contributes 5% of her profits to such projects as upliftment of her employees and youth development activities. She genuinely believes she is the only wine producer in South Africa with Indian lineage. “At least I don’t know of any others,’ she says.

She gets her wines crafted at a winery in Robertson, one of the important production areas in the Cape Winelands. She is also a ‘coloured’ woman like Denise (South Africa has different shades and categories of colour that I still find confusing but amusing). A wine connoisseur married to a man with finance as the career, she had always dreamt of making wine and Cape Dreams was fructification of that dream. A part of her dream was also to help the farm workers who she felt got a raw deal and hence her commitment to share a part of her profit to improve their lot and labeling her wines as such.

She produces seven labels that include a Pinotage Rosé, three whites-Chenin, Sauvignon and Chardonnay while the three reds-Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinotage complete the portfolio. The packaging is neat without any fuss, displaying a boundary map of Africa within which the philosophy of the company is mentioned. The prices are quite economical for the whole range. ‘It has been my philosophy to keep the prices low because I started being a passionate consumer first and would like more people to be able to afford our wines,’ says Bunty who has met a few keen importers and hopes to start exporting to India soon.

If the two wines I tasted-a juicy, tropically flavoured Sauvignon Blanc and the creamy, slightly oaked Chardonnay with apple and peach flavour- both fruit forward wines are any indication of her range, these wines should find ready takers in the retail market looking for palate pleasing crisp wines under Rs.1200, provided she finds the right importer, of course.

You may visit her site or contact Bunty directly at for any queries.



Subhash Arora Says:

I agree totally with you, Omar. What most consumers dont realise is that terroir and soil is a very important aspect of South African wines. I would love to see them celebrating more with your wines. Subhash Arora

Posted @ April 26, 2011 11:15


Jardine Omar Says:

This would have been an interesting article. However, what is clear is the following: - India presents are huge market for South African producers of quality wine, priced appropriately for where it is positioned. - South African producers should consider working together/forming alliances, as in the case of Mrs Khan and Mrs Stubbs) to become formidable and recognized in India and in the process mitigate the impact of the following challenges: - High tariffs - Regulatory regime (as per different states of India) - Marketing and promotion costs - Transport costs India is a country known for festivals and celebration. Based on the stature of the relationship between South Africa and India, South African wine should be celebrated in India.

Posted @ April 26, 2011 11:11


Subhash Arora Says:

I am sorry if there is any misunderstanding, Bunty. It is never our intent to project any country in a poor light- I like to stick to facts. Your wines are good and value-for-money and whatever you are doing for the cause of the workers out of your sales/profits, it is commendable. Good luck in Indian market. Subhash Arora

Posted @ April 25, 2011 14:29


Bunty Says:

Dear Subash, I have to place on record I am very disappointed in the quality of your article on Cape Dreams.  You have misquoted me which is not acceptable specifically - “workers have a raw deal” I did this article on good faith naturally for brand exposure in the Indian market and not to portray South Africa in a poor light especially as our countries have agreed to promote trade relations. Kind Regards, Bunty

Posted @ April 14, 2011 14:24


Irate Producer Says:

Interesting that Denise has such a problem with WOSA and their way of doing things, but are just too happy to use their funds. Why don't you pay for your own trips if you are so unhappy Denise?

Posted @ April 05, 2011 11:10


Guy Says:

Well said - Denise Stubs!

Posted @ April 05, 2011 11:00


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