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Women and Wine Production in South Africa

Having done several projects in and for South Africa, I had been tracking the development of black ownership in their quickly emerging wine industry. The business model typically involves an “apprenticeship” with one of the larger producers, with ownership distributed in part (typically 20-30%) to the workers or village which provided the labor, the entrepreneurs, and the established wine company, which could hold no more than about 20% for their assistance in development, cultivation, and distribution. With this model, there are a small but encouraging number of black wine producers now in South Africa. As of this writing, there are only 34 black owned producers in the US, and four from South Africa which are distributed to the US – Seven Sisters, M’Mudi, Highberry, and House of Mandela.

Wineries on the way up in South Africa include Stellekaya winery (stellekaya.com), and Koopmanskloof .

One for the nascent problems for black vintners in South Africa, is that the black population (80%), only about 5% drink wine (beer is by far the favorite beverage). Which mans that these new companies are heavily dependent on exports.

Vivian Kleynhans

The Black Women Leading South Africa’s Wine Revolution

It was at the very first Soweto Wine Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2005 when Vivian Kleynhans offered Selena Cuffe a glass of Seven Sisters wine—the strawberry-colored rosé named after Kleynhans’ sister Twena.

“She is a flirt,” says Kleynhans (née Brutus), the fourth sister and namesake of the sauvignon blanc. “That wine flirts with you—be careful.”

The rosé was so tempting, Cuffe gathered $75,000 in savings and credit cards after returning home to Cambridge, Mass. to import Seven Sisters in the United States. She hardly knew anything about wine.

“We ran out of product in the first six weeks,” says Cuffe, CEO of Heritage Link Brands, the company she founded with her husband a month after meeting Kleynhans, which is also the leading importer of black-produced wines from South Africa and the African diaspora.

With Cuffe’s help, Seven Sisters gained the interests of restaurants, liquor stores and specialty supermarkets across the United States. Vivian, the elegant sauvignon blanc, became the first South African wine ever served on American Airlines.

Then Walmart came knocking in 2013—that is Walmart’s now-retired executive vice president of global sourcing, Ed Kolodzieski, literally showed up at Kleynhans’ door in South Africa with an offer to distribute five of the seven wines, created to match the style and personality of each sister, in more than 650 stores.

The deal firmly planted Seven Sisters as the largest black-owned South African wine brand in America, and put the Brutus sisters, from the small fishing village of Paternoster, on the map in 42 states.

On December 15, Seven Sisters will open the doors of the first—and only—black-owned and woman-owned tasting room in more than 350 years of South African winemaking.

It is a dream come true for seven siblings, who grew up without electricity or a bathroom in a two-bedroom cottage shared between a family of 10.

But the road from wine to riches hasn’t always been sweet—for the Brutus sisters, or the long lineage of black farm workers who pruned vines before them.

South Africa is among the largest wine producers in the world, exporting more than 414 million liters in 2014. While black people make up 80 percent of its population, less than 2 percent of the $3 billion industry is black-owned—a statistic the African National Congress vowed to improve after the country’s first democratic election in 1994.

Socioeconomic disparities is something the Brutus sisters know too well. When their father lost his job during apartheid, the family was forced to split up and live with different relatives—most of the sisters dropped out of school. And they were left with nothing after their parents died.

“The only riches left for us was ourselves,” says Kleynhans, who celebrated her 51st birthday in October.

From a young age, Kleynhans was always the sister who solved everyone’s problems. It was her idea to reunite her siblings after twenty years to create a new legacy with fine wines, albeit an unlikely calling.

Because of its exclusivity, wine was hardly the beverage of choice for the majority of South Africans.

“With apartheid, blacks drank beer, as there were only beer halls in the townships, owned by the government,” says Marilyn Cooper, co-founder of Soweto Wine Festival. “There was no exposure to wine.”

Cooper has seen consumption increase since the inception of Soweto Wine Festival, but says only 5 percent of the black population drinks wine.

Not only that, the relationship between black people and wine in South Africa has been complicated since Dutch settlers planted the first vineyard on indigenous peoples’ land in 1655.

Afrikaners, descendants of the Dutch, have controlled the wine industry for generations, while the descendants of slaves, who were trafficked from African countries, developed the farms, much like African Americans developed plantations in the American south.

Under the apartheid-era “dop system,” farm workers were paid in cheap wine, which exacerbated alcoholism, and kept them dependent on white farmers. Thecolored population, a mixed-race group that includes the Brutus sisters, still suffers from the social damages of alcoholism to this day, which includes one of the highest levels of fetal alcohol syndrome in the world….Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2015 in Women

 

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Beer Bust!

One would think – with the thousands of micro-breweries which have opened up in the US in the last decade or so, that annual consumption of beer would be going through the roof. As the chart below shows, that isn’t what is happening…

Basically the bottom has fallen out of beer consumption. And this is a long term trend –

Back in the early nineties 71 percent of the 18-29 cohort preferred beer. Just 41 percent of today’s youth cohort says beer is their favorite, as do only 43 percent of 30 to 49 year olds. In other words, a cohort of beer lovers lost their taste for it as they became middle aged and was replaced by a new youth cohort that doesn’t like beer that much either.

U.S. Drinkers Divide Between Beer and Wine as Favorite

Americans who drink alcohol are about equally likely to say they drink beer (36%) or wine (35%) most often. Another 23% say liquor is their beverage of choice. That continues the trend in which beer has declined as the preferred beverage of U.S. drinkers, shrinking its advantage over wine from 20 percentage points in 1992 to one point today.

The results are based on Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 10-14. The poll finds 60% of Americans saying they drink alcohol at least occasionally, in line with the historical average of 63% since 1939.

Young adult drinkers’ alcoholic beverage preferences have changed dramatically over the past two decades. In the early 1990s, 71% of adults under age 30 said they drank beer most often; now it is 41% among that age group. There has been a much smaller decline in the percentage of 30- to 49-year-olds who say they drink beer the most, from 48% to 43%, with essentially no change in older drinkers’ beer preference.

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Chocolate Heart Attack Prevention

Seems like every few weeks, scientists come up with yet another way tp stave off heart attacks. I suffered a serious heart event last year – so I’ve been on the lookout for ways to stave off another. A single glass of red wine a day has proven to be a deterrent to heart attacks, as has low daily doses of the miracle drug Aspirin. Filled up the wine cellar with Cabernets and Merlots…check! Got a discount pack of baby Aspirin from the local discount store and pop one every morning…check!

Move over red wine and Aspirin – it’s time to add dark chocolate to the list!

Daily ‘Dose’ of Dark Chocolate Might Shield the Heart

There’s more sweet news about chocolate and your health: A new study suggests that eating a bit of dark chocolate each day may cut the odds of heart attack and stroke in high-risk people.

Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, antioxidant substances known to have heart protective effects. Until now, the potential benefits of dark chocolate on heart health have only been examined in short-term studies.

In the new study, Australian researchers used a mathematical model to predict the long-term health effects of daily consumption of dark chocolate among more than 2,000 people who had high blood pressure and what’s known as the “metabolic syndrome” — a group of conditions that increase a person’s risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Daily consumption was set at 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of dark chocolate.

None of the participants had a history of heart disease or diabetes and none were receiving treatment to lower their blood pressure.

The researchers determined that 100 percent compliance with eating dark chocolate every day could potentially prevent 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people over 10 years, while 80 percent compliance could prevent 55 non-fatal and 10 fatal cardiovascular events.

Wait a minute! On a recent wine tasting date I sampled  a delectable vintage called Chocovine – which is made from French Cabernet and dark Dutch chocolate! This stuff is actually – at least to my taste buds – much better than Baileys!

Hmmm… Looks like I can combine my benefits here! Just have to find space for another case in the closet…

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2012 in Men, Women

 

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Bootleg Wine?

Couldn’t pass on this tune from Sticks McGhee reading this article –

Now – there was a Bootlegger in the BT family – made some of the finest White Lightning I ever tasted. He long ago retired. Used to like to keep a Mason Jar in the freezer

You can make wine out of almost any fruit – and even a number of flowers. I remember a neighbor who made Dandelion Wine for personal consumption, which was pretty good. Lavender is another exotic choice among the flower wines.

Guess this old guy just needed to make ends meet in these hard times…

James Edward Skinner, Elderly Virginia Bootlegger, Arrested With 600 Gallons Of Fruit Wine. Again

An elderly Virginia bootlegger has been arrested, again, for illegally making and selling fruit wine at his home.

Six-hundred gallons of the wine — made of bananas, strawberries and tomatoes, among other fruits — were stored in the 83-year-old’s garage and shed.

James Edward Skinner was arrested in Newport News last week after agents “received complaints pertaining to the illegal manufacture and sale of wine in the home,” according to a press statement released by Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Skinner’s grandson, Darrin Skinner, was also arrested. (The grandson’s age is given as 44 in the press statement; it’s given as 41 in WVEC-TV’s account of the arrest.)

The wine came “in various flavors,” per the statement, and was sold for $7 or $8 per half-gallon — that’s somewhere between $8,600 and $9,600 worth of wine seized by authorities.

“People seem to think its ‘better’ because it’s homemade,” according to Special Agent in Charge Bob Brooks, who communicated his observations to The Huffington Post by email via Virginia ABC spokesperson Maureen Haney:

There is also a certain novelty involved, as there is with moonshine. Illegal wine is not as common as the illegal corn whisky (moonshine) because it’s a more time consuming process. Wine has to be fermented after it is distilled, then strained and fermented again. There was tons of sediment in the wine they seized from the Skinner home on Friday and there is not a lot of quality control.Brooks noted that “Skinner told officers that he had learned how to make the wine from his father and was still using the same recipe. He makes the wine from all types of fruit including strawberries, bananas, apples, tomatoes, and pretty much anything that is available to him at the time.”

Mostly “older retired people” are engaged in this sort of bootlegging, Brooks said through Haney. “Because they are retired, they have the time, and it’s extra income they don’t have to claim on their taxes.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Great American Rip-Off

 

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