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Ex-dishwasher brings wine culture to Khayelitsha

Described as the brand that celebrates communities, Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines is on a mission to introduce wine culture to the streets of Khayelitsha and share a bit of Khayelitsha with the world.

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Lindile Ndzaba entered the hospitality industry in 2009 as a dishwasher and gradually worked his way up into restaurant management positions.

He said it was during his time working behind the bar, that he was exposed to wine culture which intrigued him because of its absence in black culture and communities.

The100% black-owned business was officially founded in 2018 and has since received great support and recognition from the wine industry.

“Although hesitant at first, the brand was quickly embraced and celebrated by the market eKasi as a brand that they can relate to and a brand that speaks to them,” said Ndzaba.

He explained that starting his own wine label in the township, an unexplored niche, came with its challenges because it is something that has never been done before. Gaining trust with customers, building a good name and approaching restaurants is still an on-going process.

An optimistic Ndzaba explained that all of the challenges have proven to be worth it and that, as a young black entrepreneur, he hopes to inspire a generation of young black entrepreneurs not to fear prestigious fields and industries.

“Start somewhere. We do not own vineyards, we do not have the skills, facilities or cultural background to start up yet. As a collective so much can be achieved, we need to work hard now to enter these spaces so that it is easier for the next generation to do so.

The stand-alone brand works directly with winemakers and vineyards, including The Fledge & Co. and Saxenburg Wine Estate, both reputable names in the wine industry. This ensures that a calibre of good quality wine is introduced to Khayelitsha.

“Furthermore, I would like to showcase the talent and ambition within Khayelitsha and townships at large. We are more than poverty and crime; Khayelitsha is home to brilliant minds.”

As a community-based brand, Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines also runs several feeding schemes and does charity work within the community.

A popular wine bar on Wale street, Openwine, is one of the proud customers of Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines. Business owner Raphael Paterniti said that he was inspired to support the project after seeing Ndzaba’s efforts to speak about his community through his wine.

“As a wine merchant, I supported the wonderful name the brand gives the community and I was impressed with the good quality of the product. The wine is of great quality.”

Wine maker and co-owner of The Fledge & Co, Leon Coetzee said as a winemaker, he was more than happy to work with Ndzaba and his new line.

Working with more than 50 different vineyards and more than 27 types of grapes, Coetzee confirmed that blends made for Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines are “nothing short of excellent, encompassing the whole of Cape Town in a glass”.

“Lindile has opened the opportunity for the wine industry to enter an untapped market, coming from the right angle. He puts heart and soul into his work and this is something customers will appreciate in years to come. He knows his customers well and has created the opportunity to grow a customer base and new niche within townships.”

Winemaker at Saxenburg Wine Estate, Dirk van Zyl said that projects and start-ups like Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines are important for the wine industry at large.

“For a very long time, the wine industry in South Africa has not been transformed enough. This project is so exciting, as it allows for more people to explore wine culture, which is so much more than just a liquid.”

Van Zyl explained that Saxenburg is an estate that is passionate about wine culture and education and is more than happy to be working alongside Ndzaba’s brand.