PREVIOUSLY the local wine industry had its focus on the export market, but has in recent times recognised the local market as a significant player. The attitude towards wine and its consumption has drastically changed in South Africa in the last decade, especially among urban black people.
My supposition is backed by Dr. Carla Weightman’s 2018 research which focused on the perceptions of local consumers towards wine. The PhD graduate (in wine biotechnology) focused on two specific wine-consuming groups, urban black and white wine drinkers. In years gone by, the latter made up the majority of wine consumers in the urban jungles of the country, but thina abantu have become the leading consumers-accounting for 80% according to Weightman’s research.
But nothing demonstrates the urban black’s newfound relationship with the beautifully aging drink, like a 22 year-old African owning a brand of wine, purely from passion. He’s 26 years-old now, but Prince Moeng was that 22 year-old when he found Moeng Wines in 2015. “My first encounter was at corporate events and it was love at first sip. I started having wine with all my meals and trying different varietals with it. Then I would do food pairings. It got to a point where I tried a different bottle of wine every day. That is how I grew my love for wine and eventually had the idea of owning my own wine brand. That is when I started researching about the wine industry and the making of wine. I can’t say I grew up drinking wine as my parents were strict and them being pastors didn’t make my decision any easy,” says Moeng.
Four years in business now, the Moeng Wines is a self-distributed brand which has found its place at selected restaurants around Gauteng, while increasing its market presence through events and collaborations with corporates. “This means that people that want our wine can visit our website and order directly from there and the wine will be delivered. We also hand pick restaurants and wine bars that meet our standards to distribute our products,” shares Moeng.
Moeng didn’t want to disclose Moeng Wines’ demographics but his hosting of Wine Masterclasses at Mambisa’s monthly entrepreneurs gathering Startup Grind Tembisa, indicates that his brand grows in tandem with urban black people’s appreciation for wines.
The business was found in Mahikeng but is now based in Centurion. “Some of the challenges about running a winery include distribution, particularly with the high competition in the country. Being based in Gauteng also has its own challenges, with some of the key resources being based in Cape Town.”
Despite the adversities of business, Moeng has had the Deputy Minister of Small Business Department as a guest at their annual gala dinner and Moeng Wines has enjoyed the perks of product placement in the film She Is King.
He runs the brand with a small group of six but like any entrepreneur, he envisions expansion for his business. “We aim at being the premium wine of choice across the continent. We also look into introducing more young wine makers into the industry.”