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GLAMOUR Women in Charge: Meet Ingrid Best, Founder and CEO of IBest Wines

Los Angeles and Cape Town based marketing executive turned wine negociant Ingrid Best is the founder and CEO of IBest wines, a brand blending wine, art and culture. With two decades in the spirit industry working on brands such Hennesey and Barcadi, Ingrid used her knowledge and expertise in launching IBest Wines in South Africa, challenging the stereotypes regarding African wine. As one of the few black women in the wine industry her aim is to revolutionise the industry by bringing more women of colour in the front line.

What is a wine negociant, and what do they do?

A wine négociant is a businessperson who purchases grapes or finished wines and vinifies them under their own name.

How did you get into the wine business?

I was working in the music industry when a mentor and close friend said he thought my skills were transferable to the wine and spirits industry, which was a foreign industry to me at the time. Shortly thereafter, I got a role at Diageo, one of the largest suppliers in the industry, where I launched an ultra-premium rum brand, from Brazil. That was my start in the spirits industry. As far as wine, I grew up in the Bay Area with Napa as my backyard. It was in Napa where I experienced Crush Camp during harvest season, which sparked my early interest in wine; I’ve been traveling and intentionally learning about wine ever since. A few years ago, my dear friend Angela Yee invited me on a trip with her to South Africa. I fell in love with the culture, people, and the wine and realized my true purpose: to bring South African wine to the world. I later returned to South Africa to launch D’USSE at Global Citizens which further solidified my plan to launch my wine brand and build my own legacy.

Why did you choose to start your business in South Africa?

South African wines are often relegated to a bottom shelf in wine stores with maybe three or four different selections. Meanwhile, wines from California, Italy, France, New Zealand are abundant with rows and rows of shelf space. South Africa has not always been regarded as a premiere wine growing region. It’s my goal to share the story of the beautiful wines coming out of South Africa - from Chardonnay to Chenin Blanc, Cabernet, Syrah and many more.

Take us through the selection of IBest Wines, what type of wine do you sell and why did you focus on them?

We currently offer a red blend and a white blend. We were very intentional about creating blends to show the breadth of wine that comes from South Africa beyond the varieties that many are familiar with like Pinotage and Chenin Blanc. Our team worked for months with the winemaker at our winery partner in Stellenbosch to select the individual varietals and create the balanced blends that everyone is experiencing today. The result is two world-class wine blends that encapsulate the terroir and spirit of Stellenbosch. The IBest Wines Red Blend is a harmonious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Petit Syrah, and Malbec that boasts vibrant black currant and cherry notes, coupled with floral hints of jasmine. The IBest Wines White Blend is a multidimensional blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc exudes ripe peaches, apricots, and floral honeysuckle aromas. Both wines are gluten-free and vegan, appealing to a broad spectrum of wine enthusiasts.

Image: Supplied

What is the most challenging thing about the wine industry?

The most challenging part of the wine industry is financing everything. It takes an incredible amount of capital, and you have to reinvest in the brand constantly. For the first two years, I fully funded IBest Wines. We now have several investors - all Black women! I am grateful every day for their support.

Your business is female led, was that a conscious decision?

It was absolutely a conscious decision to have a team of all women - and Black women at that! I have always been passionate about hiring women for the roles they deserve. Sometimes the only thing a person needs is an opportunity for someone else to believe in them.

What has been some of your achievements/Highlights since you started IBest Wines?

There are so many highlights that I am proud of – it’s hard to summarize them! Receiving our first shipment is one that stands out - when we received the note that the product landed in the US and cleared customs it was surreal. Being able to launch in South Africa in mid-February was something I’ll remember forever - we had an intimate launch event at Southern Guild Gallery hosted by me and Rich Mnisi - so many people in my community came out to support and it meant the world to the team. Lastly, working with my team! Every day, we have the opportunity to learn from one another. We are each other's biggest supporters.

Image: Supplied

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is knowing that I am building a legacy and hopefully providing inspiration for other Black and Brown people to do the same.

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