POP & POUR
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.