Q&A: House of Mandela Wines Brand Now Embodies Stronger Purpose

Q&A: House of Mandela Wines Brand Now Embodies Stronger Purpose

AFKInsider: One of House of Mandela’s goals is to encourage more black ownership within South Africa’s wine industry. What do you think is the first step in making that happen?

Tukwini Mandela: I guess encouraging people to even take a look at the wine industry as an option. I don’t think that many young black professionals consider that. They don’t necessarily have to be wine makers; they can be wine marketers and they can own their own wine businesses. Not everybody can be a doctor, scientist or a lawyer. People have different skills. For those not interested in being a scientist or mathematician, they should take a look at the wine industry. Careers in wine is an option.

AFKInsider: The Thembu collection is attached to your grandfather’s tribe. Do you plan on integrating those parts of heritage into the wines in any other way?

Tukwini Mandela: The story and the legacy are already there. The wine just helps us get people to understand what the story is all about. My grandfather sold politics as a by-product of telling his side of the story. The wines serve the same purpose of getting out the information of the family legacy.

AFKInsider: You talk about respect, being honorable and going the fair trade route. Do you think fair trade is integrated enough in the wine industry?

Tukwini Mandela: I think that there’s a big role to play to make sure workers get the benefits that they deserve, because ultimately its them who makes the wine. Getting fair trade education is not easy. The fair trade body comes to your farm unannounced and essentially turns your farm inside out. They do financial research and make sure the land is being used properly, the workers are being treated fairly and in fair living conditions, and that they’re being paid a fair salary. I’m hoping that the majority of south African wineries in years to come will be fair trade certified.

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AFKInsider: Europe is a big target market for the brand and House of Mandela Wines just launched in the Netherlands. How do you cater to each market you’re looking to get into as far as taste and price goes?

Tukwini Mandela: Europe is such a diverse market. We’re looking at entering other European countries sometime this year. Ultimately, wine taste profiles differ from one country to another. For example in China, they only drink red wine. We create and market wines that will match their taste profiles.

AFKInsider: Do you feel that the mission or purpose behind House of Mandela Wines has changed since your grandfather passed away?

Tukwini Mandela: No, it’s still the same. I remember the things that my grandfather would always say to us. He’d be happy with anything we did as long as it’s with dignity and respect. That thought is always there. We feel my grandfather’s presence more now that we did when he was alive.

I think that because my grandfather’s passed on, since people can’t reach him, we’re sort of like the next best thing — something that they can touch physically. We were left with a beautiful legacy and we’re determined to carry on. There’s an urge to tell the story even more. My grandfather carried the name of his ancestors. One of his sons’ name is Mandela who carries the name of an ancestors. So, it didn’t start with my grandfather and it certainly won’t end with him.