Siwela is disrupting the wine industry. She’s one of the youngest black female winemakers in a white male-dominated sector and is determined to let other South Africans join her in making a difference. Here we caught up with the entrepreneur to get to know her a little more.
Walk me through Siwela wines? How did it come about?
I never thought I would one day become a wine maker, Where I come from, we don’t have vineyards and we certainly don’t have wine makers.
I completed my national diploma in Biotechnology at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. I majored in Fermentation, where my interest in wine began, fermentation is the science behind wine making , and therefore the processes of making wine just stood out for me .I remember once before my fermentation lecture in 2012 I shared a thought with a good friend of mine and said maybe one day I would have my own winery and make my own wine.
Following my completion in biotechnology, I was fortunate to land an internship at one of the wineries in Stellenbosch where I was exposed to the vineyard practices, cellar processing, Packaging and bottling of wine. I therefore realized my extreme level of passion in the field and wanted to equip myself as much as possible. I always believed, one day I will put the skills to a great course. I therefore landed a permanent position in one of the biggest wines and spirit produce focusing on the quality assurance and approval of wine and spirits from primary to secondary production (Bottling).
At this point, my skills and knowledge on wine as a beverage and wine making began to broaden as I spent 6 years in the wine industry. I also worked casually with various wine farms as a wine advisor to understand the customers perspective and expectations on wine. I dealt with different wine consumers on a daily and which was a great experience and exercise for me. I didn’t want to just know how to make wine, asses the quality but I also wanted to get used to talking and selling wine. I have also completed various wine making and wine courses to add to my qualifications and to understand wine much better. Deciding on which grapes and style of wine to produce was an easy process for me due to my extensive knowledge and experience in wine. My focus has always been about producing great quality wine, I have learnt through my wine making studies that good wine comes from good grapes, and this is where I cannot afford to compromise. My wine is made from grapes harvested at selected wine farms in Stellenbosch based on the highest quality spectrum.
Was wine making a career you wanted to be in?
I have always had passion for wine, throughout the years of being in the wine industry my goal has always been to make my own wine and establish my own winery. I don’t imagine myself doing anything else. I feel privileged to be a young black woman and have a paramount amount of knowledge in wine. Regardless of my skills and educational qualifications in wine I continue to continue studying wine.
What challenges did you experience whilst working towards your goal?
My greatest challenge throughout my journey has always been capital, the wine industry is one of the most capital industries. This also make it more challenging to grow the business and be able to compete favorably.
How does it feel to be one of the youngest women under the MCC Association in South Africa?
I feel proud and privileged to be one of the youngest female black wine makers I and woman in the MCC Association in South Africa, more especially for a girl from Limpopo. Although it is not all roses, but the journey has proven to be fruitful. It brings me more joy to see my sacrifices and hard work pay off. My aim is to inspire other young people to become active role players in the wine industry as this will help to grow and sustain the south African wine industry, which is the biggest contributor to the GDP in the country.
What is the one career advice you would give to a young black who wants to be a wine maker?
I strongly believe that more young people should become wine makers, especially if it is something one is passionate about. It is also a fun and rewarding career which requires a lot of dedication and hard work. I advise young people to start early, get the necessary education and skills to be prepared for the journey, passion will always lead you into the path of success.
What are the future plans for Siwela Wines and what can we look forward to?
Siwela wines is currently working towards expanding the business to ensure that we sustain our business and reach our business goals. We have also registered a wine academy which will focus on providing skills and education to young underprivileged people to gain access to the wine and tourism sector.
What are the 5 things that people need to know about you?
· I never thought I was capable to establishing a business.
· Besides making wine, I am also passionate about teaching and talking about wine.
· I have left my Job as a laboratory analyst and invested all my savings into my business
· I am a second child in the family and a mother
· I drink more wine than water
Purchase your bottle of Siwela Wines here.