Black winemakers make their mark at forthcoming Johannesburg Cap Classique & Champagne Festival
Several black-owned wine brands – including Amari Wines, Ayepyep, House of Azari and Khulu – will be in attendance at the upcoming Johannesburg Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, which takes place at the Inanda Polo Club on the weekend of March 25 and 26 from 11h00 to 16h00.
The two-day event will feature some of South Africa’s finest Cap Classiques – including several from black producers which it is hoped will continue to unlock greater opportunity for economic participation of Black people in South Africa’s wine industry. A number of French Champagnes will also be available for festival-goers to taste and buy.
Says Sazi Ngcobo, co-founder of Amari Wines: “Our end goal is to use this brand as a vehicle to benefit our beautiful country through job creation and education – we plan on creating a programme to educate more black winemakers.
“We launched with one bubbly, the Amari Lush, which will be available to taste at the festival. In the long term we see see Amari as an international brand. Our immediate plans are to launch our Brut this year, followed by our Rosé (Amari Blush), and then we plan to take on Africa with our focus markets being Nigeria, Angola and Ghana. Our ultimate goal is to be a globally recognised brand that is proudly South African.”
Ahead of the festival, Ngcobo answered some questions about Amari Wines and the team behind the brand:
Can you tell us a bit about the people behind Amari Wines
Amari Wines was co-founded by Siya Maphalala, Luyanda Maphalala, Xolani Mancotywa and myself in 2017. Xolani and I both worked for Moët Hennessy while Siya comes from a logistics and sales background and Luyanda has worked in finance for some of the world’s biggest alcohol and pharmaceutical companies. Since inception we have been fortunate to grow the business to now include Sisa Nyathi who is our operations head, The Good Guys who is our creative agency and Candice Blanche our social media manager.
How did it all start?
It was born out of a crazy dream and a tipsy night in which myself, Siya and Luyanda toyed with the idea of actually starting our very own Cap Classique brand. Fast forward a few years later, after self-funding the entire project, going back on forth for just over a year to find the perfect taste profile and learning as much as we could about the wine industry, our first bubbly, Amari Lush was launched in February 2021. This was in the midst of Covid! We started our journey by selling online and have since grown to being listed in some of South Africa’s top restaurants, and we have also recently ventured into the retail space. We are a small team with big ambitions. It’s this unique mix of experience and common love for bubbles that has allowed us to start and grow our own brand.
Where are you based?
Our main base of operation is Johannesburg but we also have warehouses in Durban, which is our secondary market, and Cape Town.
Tell us about the name Amari
Amari has African-Yoruba origins and means “strength”.
Can you give us a bit of info about the bubbly
Amari Lush is a vintage demi-sec, however, it is important to note that it is not an overly sweet demi-sec as our dosage is only 33g/l. This is by design as we really wanted to produce an easy-drinking wine that can be enjoyed anytime of the day and on any occasion.
What dish pairs best with Amari Lush?
Amari Lush pairs best with fresh fish as well as spicy curries as the “honey coating” balances out flavours beautifully.
Other bubbly producers at the festival will include Benguela Cove, Black Elephant Vintners, Bon Courage, Boschendal, Champagen Deutz, Graham Beck, Guy Charbaut’s Carrol Boyes Champagne, Kleine Zalze, Krone, L’Ormarins, Paul Renè, Steenberg and Villiera as well as several brands courtesy of WCellar including WCC Brut Cap Classique and Nectar Royale Cap Classique, both from Villiera, Signature Cap Classique and Comtsesse Alexia Brut Champagne and Comtesse Alexia Rosé Brut.
The Johannesburg Cap Classique & Champagne Festival will be held at the Inanda Polo Club in Sandton on Saturday, March 25 and Sunday, March 26 from 11h00 to 16h00. Tickets cost R450pp, and include entry to the venue, a souvenir branded glass and 10 tasting coupons. More bubbly will be available to purchase at the event.