Siwela Masoga is a 28-year-old black female winemaker who is shaking up the wine industry. She is in a white male-dominated sector and is determined that fellow South Africans join her on a wine revolution.
As a biotechnology student who majored in fermentation, Masoga fell in love with wine making. Coming from a small village in Limpopo and being used to seeing wine already in bottles in stores, she said she got fascinated with the process of wine production and making.
“I was fortunate enough to intern at one of the wine farms in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape during my studies, I was able to gain experience in the fermentation, packaging and selling of wine,” said Masoga.
Masoga said at the time the idea of being in the wine industry seemed impossible, “but I thought to myself, one day perhaps I would like to have my own winery back at home in Limpopo.”
She is currently doing her Masters in Wine Making at the Cape Wine Academy while living her dream as a winemaker.
As the owner of Siwela Wines, an upcoming winery based in Stellenbosch, she currently produces a dry red and a semi-sweet red and plans to add a sparkling wine and a white wine to its range, which hit the market in August.
The wine is currently marketed through social media and word of mouth. Masoga also said that the wine is couriered to customers, many of whom order online on Siwela Wines website: www.siwelawines.co.za.
The enterprising businesswoman keeps in touch with her clients after they have received their order. She explained that winemaking is a natural process which can take up to a year.
“Siwela Wines’ first harvest was in 2017 but the product could only be put on the market in 2018,” said Masoga.
“I am currently working towards opening a branch in Limpopo, that has been the ultimate goal for me and with time it will happen.”
Siwela said her biggest fear when starting her business was whether people would buy her wines.
“I was quite surprised at how people actually received my brand and how it was easier than I had anticipated to actually break into the market,” she said.
Siwela Wines hosts wine tasting events around the country and the continent.
“My aim is to bring the wine to the people and also create a culture amongst black people and to teach them about wine,” she said.
“I’m currently doing a lot of export marketing. I’ve done west African and also going to Ghana soon because I believe there is a potential market in Africa.”
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.