News / Africa

    South Africa Cultivates Wine Market

    A couple at the WineX Wine Festival in Sandton samples the red wine from Leopard's Leap, a winery on the Western Cape of South Africa, October 2012. (VOA/Peter Cox)
    A couple at the WineX Wine Festival in Sandton samples the red wine from Leopard's Leap, a winery on the Western Cape of South Africa, October 2012. (VOA/Peter Cox)
    South Africa is the world's seventh-largest wine-producing country.  As the wine industry has grown, there has been a growing focus on expanding the country's wine-drinking customer base.
     
    Youth appeal

    A high-end winery on the Western Cape of South Africa, Stellenzicht, has launched a new wine called Red ESCape.  The bottle label shows a cartoon-like USB cable that runs between computers, modems, grapes, satellite dishes and wine barrels.
     
    Assistant winemaker Natalee Botha says the idea is to appeal to a broader and younger audience.
     
    "We decided to make it more accessible for the public.  Do something funky with the label," she said.

    The wine was marketed at the WineX festival in Sandton, a wealthy suburb of Johannesburg.
     
    "It is funny," said Botha. "I had a guy from Sandton last night that told me, 'This is Sandton, honey, something like this is not going to work here.'  And I thought to myself, he has to remember that this whole country is not Sandton."

    Black middle class

    As South Africa's wine industry matures, Botha says wineries are looking to expand their customer base, trotting out new labels that will appeal to a broader cross-section of the country.

    "The whole idea is that I want everyone to drink wine.  I want everyone to perceive wine as something cool.  I do not want people to find wine intimidating," she said.

    The general consensus among winemakers is that South Africa's growing black middle class is a market that has been ignored.  But that has been changing.

    South Africa's population is 79 percent black, but among wine consumers, that number has been much lower.  According to the All Media and Products Survey in 2006, 53 percent of the country's wine drinkers were black.  In 2010, that had grown to 63 percent.

    Afika Fikeni, of Midrand, came out to sample white wines.

    "It makes it easy for us to advance and bring more wine into our homes with the type of food we want to have.  Because we are not wine kind of people as black people, really.  It is a great event," said Fikeni.

    He said the industry could do a better job of reaching out to black, middle-class consumers.

    That's what winemaker Eugene Vanzyl of Leopard's Leap winery is trying to do.

    "Obviously there is parts of the population that were not exposed to wine that much," he said. "We do a lot of tastings in areas that were not previously exposed to wine.  We do wine shows in Soweto and things like that."

    Vanzyl says it is a growing process.

    "I am pleasantly surprised to see the interest of the black consumer," he said. "It is really picking up quite nicely now.  It is a different market, because traditionally they are beer drinkers.  It is a bit of a challenge for us to slowly convince them, but it is becoming an 'in thing.'  That is the way it evolves, eh?"

    In 10 years his winery has gone from selling 7,000 cases a year to 1.3 million cases.

    Wineries are also finding ways to make their labels stand out on the shelf - hoping to attract novice wine drinkers.

    Winemaker Duncan Savage was filling glasses with Splattered Toad Sauvignon Blanc.  The wine is named after a toad near their winery endangered by vehicles on nearby roads.  His bottles are adorned with a cartoon of a flattened toad.  It attracts the eye.  The taste attracts the palate.

    "We started at 20,000 bottles in 2009 and in 2012, 300,000," he said. "People have latched onto it.  They absolutely love the concept.  It is quirky, it's fun and it appeals to a market that before we really did not have access to."

    Wine aficionados

    From 2005 to 2010, wine drinkers in South Africa grew from 1.7 million to three million.

    "I walked in here and went to the wines I knew," said wine lover Kavita Chouhan.  "I got stuff that I know.  I do not really want to come try something new.  I know what is good.  If you think about what you drank in varsity, and what you drink now, it is definitely a change."

    Chouhan said it has become popular to be serious about wine.

    "Being a wine connoisseur has almost become fashionable," she said. "I do not know how many people actually enjoy doing it.  I am like, 'People should enjoy themselves.'  If they are not into wine, they should not be embarrassed to say that."

    Winemakers are acknowledging the market for new consumers has great potential.

    And Natalee Botha says there is great potential for the new Red ESCape wine her company is marketing.

    "We have been thinking a lot about the concept.  And it is actually crazy that we do not think someone has tried it yet," she said. "It is a sleeping giant.  We do not have little plans with this wine."

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.