Keith Gabani Dudula turns his passion for wine into fabulous commercial product
Late one night Keith Gabani Dudula finished his shift at a steak ranch in Witbank. He decided to taste a little bit of what was left in a wine bottle, an experience that led him on a wild journey towards his life's dream.
Today, Dudula is a famous personality in Johannesburg. The new-concept wine shop he runs, Wine Sense, is renowned as one of the trendiest spots to purchase wine. Dudula's journey began in 1999 when he came across an advert for the Cape Wine Academy. He contacted them and completed a course at their Pretoria campus.
The seed had been planted - Dudula wanted to make his own wines - now all he needed was the finance. But it was not as easy as he had thought it would be and the budding winemaker had to put his plans on hold for a while.
After a stint in insurance, he tried his hand at starting his own business, but his wine distribution company needed more than just passion and Dudula found that out the hard way.
"I went bankrupt. I didn't know enough about entrepreneurship, sales cycles, distribution and running a business," he said.
In 2004 he took a job in sales at Wine+ in Melville, Johannesburg, to learn more. Within a year, at the age of 29, his passion and ability to learn quickly made him a partner in the business. The company was sold this year to new owners and Dudula has stayed on at the Melville shop. He says he would like to change the image of wine from snobby jargon and make it more accessible to all South Africans.
"If [a wine] tastes like coke, then say so, a lot of people like coke," Dudula said.
And though he might not have his own wine label yet, he is certainly not far off.