62
BEVERAGE MEDIA
April 2013
Roots that Run Deep
House of Mandela Wines
Hit the U.S. Market
BY KRISTEN BIELER
Dr. Makaziwe Mandela and Tukwini Mandela
T
he House of Mandela wines may be
new, but they are steeped in a long
history that is as rich as the African
soil. Long before Nelson Mandela
became an international icon—and the
first democratically-elected president of
South Africa in 1994—the House of Man-
dela was born in the Western Cape the
early 1800s, a royal branch of the ancient
Thembu tribe.
“The whole concept of House of
Mandela Wines is honoring our ancestors,”
says Dr. Makaziwe Mandela (known as
Maki), Nelson Mandela’s daughter, who
is spearheading the family’s wine project,
along with her daughter, Tukwini Mandela.
“Our ancestors fought for the rights of the
African people. My father was motivated to
go into politics because of his ancestors. We
are treading on a path that great men have
tread on before us in order to create a great
society. These wines are part of that path.”
Righting the Past
South Africa has the eighth largest wine in-
dustry in the world. Yet the industry’s trou-
bled past still haunts it today. South Africa
has only a few black-owned vineyards or
black winemak-
ers, and unfair
labor practices
still persist, par-
ticularly in ru-
ral parts of the
Western Cape. “South Africa has a history
of inequality, and the wine industry has
not been exonerated,” says Maki. “But the
wine community is making progress and
we felt that we could help with that.”
Operating as a negociant, the House
of Mandela worked with Master of Wine
Lynne Sherriff to select wineries that
maintain the highest possible standards of
fairness for their workers, with equitable
wages and benefits. The Mandelas also
insisted on partnering with family-owned
wineries that had track records of quality.
Of the 30+ wineries interviewed, three
made the cut: Fairview, Thelema and
Hartenberg. From these esteemed estates,
the Mandelas source grapes and then
create their own blends. A portion of
the wines’ proceeds goes to the House of
Mandela Foundation, dedicated to causes
the family is passionate about—education,
poverty alleviation and energy generation.
While the Mandelas
have always been wine
drinkers, most South Af-
ricans generally favor beer
and whisky. Tukwini sees
this changing as well:
“Wine consumption is in-
creasing in South Africa,
particularly as the younger
generation becomes more
interested. It’s about a life-
style; wine is a very social
and aspirational drink.”
A Taste of South Africa’s Future
The Mandelas launched their wines
in South Africa in 2010. “We wanted
to get our stamp of approval at home
first,” says Maki. They have since
partnered with U.S. importer Heritage
Link Brands, run by president & CEO
Selena Cuffe, as well as Southern Wine
& Spirits.
The House of Mandela range includes
the Thembu Collection—a Cabernet, Shi-
raz, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay
($12.99–$14.99)—and the Reserve Tier,
including Chardonnay ($24.99) and Cab-
ernet ($49.99). “The Thembu Collection
is all about warmth, sunshine, nature and
community,” says Maki. The colorful pat-
terns on the label are inspired by the
da-
shiki
shirts that South African men wear—
most famously Nelson Mandela.
Reserve bottlings are adorned with
a stylized bee, symbolic of the family pa-
triarch, whose African name translates
to:
one who is brave enough to steal honey
from the beehive.
All the wines share a
ripe, luscious and balanced taste pro-
file. “As a family we are pretty easy-going,
and that is the style of wine we like,”
says Tukwini.
Maki also reminds of another old Af-
rican saying that translates to:
it is rare to
see a person alone.
“The importance for us,
of course, is when people buy House of
Mandela wines, they will want to share it
with others.”
n
BRAND
PROFILE
HOUSE OF
MANDELA
Royal Reserve
Collection
Thembu Collection
1...,52,53,54,55,56,57,58,59,60,61 63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,...116