POP & POUR

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overnight process,” he says.

Since open­ing Mo­rara’s doors in 2005, Mnikelo has no­ticed Soweto’s tav­erns and bot­tle stores are be­gin­ning to stock wine reg­u­larly. Eater­ies lo­cated in the tourist at­trac­tion of Vi­lakazi Street in Or­lando West are also reg­u­lar cus­tomers of his.

“Soweto has about 4,5 mil­lion res­i­dents. The drink­ing pop­u­la­tion could be as much as half of that. If you con­vert only 5% of those 2,5 mil­lion peo­ple to be wine drinkers, there’s much money to be made and many jobs can be cre­ated.”

There have also been some en­cour­ag­ing trends that show wine is climb­ing the pop­u­lar­ity stakes. When the Soweto Wine Fes­ti­val started in 2005 (which Mnikelo co-founded with Mar­i­lyn Cooper), about 1500 peo­ple at­tended and 82 winer­ies show­cased their prod­ucts. In the fol­low­ing year, at­ten­dance grew to 3 000, and by 2013 more than 8 000 peo­ple vis­ited the fes­ti­val over its three days. But are these all re­cent wine con­verts? Re­search has shown that 91% of the fes­ti­val’s at­ten­dees are black – mak­ing Mnikelo’s dream a re­al­ity.

The lo­ca­tion of the event in Soweto also seems to have had pos­i­tive spinoffs. “Soweto is more of an in­for­mal vibe with a friendly and en­ter­tain­ing am­biance. It is un­like other wine fes­ti­vals where the at­mos­phere is stiff, al­most as if you’re in a bank,” jokes Mnikelo.

What’s next for this con­noiseur? “The wine mar­ket is ready for black par­tic­i­pa­tion on the busi­ness side too, so watch this space,” he says.

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