Have you ever heard of Africans making it into the world of wine? I don’t mean South Africans who have a good history of wine-making, but other countries on the continent? Well, a while back, I had heard about an Ivorian making wines and actually having a vineyard, and now Zimbabweans. As a side story, one of my uncles was once a very pro-eminent wine-taster… I always wondered where he had acquired the taste (given that this is not a tradition for us), but he used to be called upon by the best wineries in France to taste and judge on the quality of their wines. The Guardian had a story about Tinashe Nyamudoka and a new generation of Zimbabweans getting into the wine business. Below are excerpts from that article. Enjoy!
… When he left [Zimbabwe] in 2008, [Tinashe] Nyamudoka had never tasted wine. Now, he ranks among southern Africa’s top sommeliers and has his own wine label with international sales.
“We have a lot going against us as Zimbabweans, and you might think there is nothing good coming out of the country,” says the 36-year-old. “So, for me to be recognised as the [top] sommeliers in the world, being African and Zimbabwean, instils a sense of hope and pride.”
Nyamudoka began his career as a waiter in a Cape Town restaurant, where he learned about the different varieties and tastes of the wines his customers drank. He moved on to become a hotel wine waiter, working alongside some of the city’s leading sommeliers.
After studying his trade [he also has a certificate in wine business management from the University of Cape Town], he won the best wine steward award in a competition for luxury hotels in the Western Cape in 2013.
… His wine label, Kumusha – “home” or “roots” in Zimbabwe’s Shona language – has benefited from his celebrity, producing 200,000 bottles a year, up from 1,200 when it was launched four years ago. “People started embracing it,” he says.
… The eight Kumusha wines – three reds, four whites and a rosé – are all produced in South Africa. They are sold in the US, the Netherlands, Kenya and Zimbabwe – “my exciting market”, he says. This month, he is starting to export his wines to the UK.
“I started this brand from scratch with no aid or financial handouts. It has been pure grit, passion and dedication,” he says. “I want people to understand that you can make it without prejudice.”
…. “There’s been an emergence of black sommeliers in the world as the industry becomes more diverse. We see the hospitality offering in Zimbabwe improving and there will be a need for sommeliers.”