Young winemaker seeks to teach the craft to black youth

Siwela Masoga
Siwela Masoga
Image: Supplied

Winemaker Siwela Masoga is giving back to the community by committing to teach 20 underprivileged black youth on all there is to know about the industry.

The 29-year-old from GaMpahlele in Limpopo said she wants to create opportunities for black youth in the white-male dominated industry.

“If I didn’t have opportunities I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said.

Masoga rose to prominence when she launched Siwela Wines in 2018. She gained popularity through social media and the internet despite not having her brand in any of the big retail stores.

“I’m hoping that with this initiative it will allow for other young people to get involved. If we can draw people into this industry then we can cement a place for us in this trade,” she said.

Masoga said winemaking in South Africa has always been associated with white people and she is determined to turn that around.

The young businesswoman has been doing just that by growing Siwela Wines from just two wine varieties to eight different kinds of wines. Wine connoisseurs can enjoy a pinotage to a sauvignon blanc or her brand new MCC’s. She said this current era is the right one for people to join the wine industry.

“I get a lot of questions about the industry and I realised that I can definitely make a difference. There is a need for this kind of awareness,” said Masoga.

Although she has had some success she said it is still a tough industry to crack, particularly when self-funded.

“It takes a lot of capital to start this. I almost gave up and told myself that maybe I’ll do this when I am older. But I realised that it is important to start while I’m still young,” she said.

Masoga had to use her salary as a laboratory analyst to fund her company and later used her pension fund to add capital to Siwela Wines.

“The greatest challenge is getting the right people to fund it. This slows us down because I have to do a lot of things myself even though I am not qualified to do them.”

Masoga said she hopes to expand her footprint into the rest of Africa, including neighbouring Lesotho and Botswana. She recently took her brand to Ghana.

“I also want to establish a tasting room and have my own winery. I also want to use the marula fruit to make other beverages in the future.”

“It’s important to offer our clients variety.”

Masoga who graduated with a national diploma in biotechnology, majoring in fermentation and microbiology, from the Cape Peninsula of Technology, is currently completing a master’s degree in winemaking at the Cape Wine Academy.

In the absence of any financial backing, she hopes to fund the training with the portion of her sales

 

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