#ThirstyThursday: black-owned alcohol brands we are loving

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Gologo Spirits

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Gologo Spirits is a start-up distillery that produces spirits, including vodka, gin and rum. Mzwandile Xaba started brewing umqombothi with his father during traditional ceremonies at home. This ignited his passion for creating spirits, whichhe started doing from his garage four years ago. “I started Gologo Spirits to create an Afrocentric and transformative distillery seeking to highlight the role and influence spirits have played and continue to play in South African cultures and lifestyles,” Xaba says.  Even the brand’s name speaks to the spirit of South Africa, taken from the Nguni word for distilled beverages: ugologo.

gologospirits.co.za; available at Shoprite Liquor

Soweto Gold

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Soweto Gold was co-founded in 2013 by Ndumiso Madlala. "I realised how popular microbreweries were all over the world but not in South African townships, which didn’t make sense,” says the entrepreneur. “The township is where most of the beer-loving people live. That's when I saw an opportunity to build the first microbrewery in Soweto. Though I was born and bred in KZN, I chose to put my business in Soweto because it’s a township everyone can resonate with, you don’t have to be from there to feel at home there,” says Madlala. Soweto Gold has grown over the years, partnering with Heineken in August 2017. “Having Heineken come on board has really helped to grow our business. We’ve been able to reach a market we wouldn’t have been able to reach if we continued doing alone,” said Madlala. 

sowetogold.co.za; available at leading liquor outlets

Mayine Gin

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Mayine Gin is the first black-owned gin in Africa. The brand was founded by gin lovers Luvuyo and his wife, Nodumo Jongile, and it seeks to tell a unique African story through infusions that use locally sourced ingredients. We researched the gin industry and experimented with different infusions and ingredients. We then created Rooibos-Infused Mayine and Grape Mayine,” Luvuyo says. “We named it Mayine which means ‘let it rain’. It’s also our son’s name.” Funding remains a huge challenge for the couple. “Running a business is very costly, and we still need capital to grow. We hope that consumers will continue to support our business so that it can thrive,” Nodumo says. “Our plan is to build our own distillery with a restaurant, where we can have local and international markets coming to socialise in Khayelitsha. Through this, we hope to create more jobs,” adds.

facebook.com/MayinePremiumGin; available at leading liquor outlets

Atelier MCC

Atelier MCC is a méthode cap classique brand founded by entrepreneur Tebello “Tibz” Motsoane early last year. “The creation of Atelier MCC began when the Wildekrans Wine Estate invited me to the farm in the Botriver Valley. Initially they wanted me to be an ambassador for the farm, but I wanted more. I spent a few days there with my now partner, Kamogelo Kgadima, our wine-maker; and the owner of the farm, Gary Harlow, and sampled copious amounts of everything. I asked a lot of questions about grapes, the region, process, barrels,and so on.

Tebello "Tibz" Motsoane from Atelier MCC
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When Kgadima pitched the concept of an MCC to me, we went into partnership,” Motsoane says. Just like any business, Motsoane has faced challenges. “The retail space is very tough but I believe in creating my own platforms. We now have our own Atelier Brunch every Sunday at the SA Culinary Club and are on several wine lists. Introducing people to Atelier over cuisine is working well,” he says, adding that young entrepreneurs must do extensive research in business. “It’s a great time to get in the game, to have a story, and tell it through your product, but never forget the basics.”

ateliermcc.com; available online, with free delivery

Scandisor Select Wine

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Nomndeni Nyembe’s passion for collecting wine led her to starting her own brand. After she spotted a gap in the wine industry — the lack of black women — she roped in her family and a local winery to create the label, which launched in October 2017. The brand offers a selection of varietals, including pinotage, chardonnay, merlot, chenin and sauvignon blanc. The name Scandisor comes from Nyembe’s clan name, which is Skhandisa. “The challenges in running your own alcohol brand are endless,” she says. “From raising capital to grow your brand, competing with big brands, getting shelf space and promoting your product — everything comes of out your own pocket because there are no sponsors to help you grow your business.”  

scandisor.co.za; available online

This article first appeared in the September 2018 print issue of Sowetan S Magazine

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