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The story of Khayelitsha’s first premium wine label, set to shine post-pandemic

Outdoor media owner Tractor Outdoor’s #20in21 SME Initiative was born out of a desire to support South Africa’s small and medium businesses (SMEs) that were dealt a blow by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, Tractor Outdoor celebrates its 20th birthday, and thus aims to give 20 qualifying SMEs a marketing boost via its nationwide outdoor media network, with a total media value of R8M, helping these businesses increase top of mind awareness.

Lindile Ndzaba, founder and director of Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines, was first exposed to the exciting world of wine in 2009, where he found himself washing glasses in one of Cape Town’s hippest wine bars. He soon became curious about the operations – specifically the wine side of things – and the more questions he asked, the more intrigued he became.

Ndzaba offered to assist the bar’s sommeliers by polishing glasses for them when they were hosting tastings and events, and they took him under their wing, teaching him about the wine trade. He soon realised that there was a significant difference between the wines that were being poured by sommeliers in the bar, compared to the wine found in Khayelitsha, his home. He saw this as an opportunity to share his newfound passion for premium wine with others in his community.

In 2018, Ndzaba launched Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines, with his maiden release being produced from the Mourvèdre grape variety, sourced from a cellar in Calitzdorp. Despite being new to the palates of those in his community, his first wine was very well-received, which inspired confidence in Ndzaba.

‘Human nature is to shy away from the unknown. People are often intimidated by wines that they don’t know, and so they have a tendency to stick to one style or cultivar. But there is so much more to discover, and through my brand, I want to help my community explore and experience great wine.’

Ndzaba says that Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines are consciously curated with the help of a sommelier, and that they work hand-in-hand with various winemakers from some of the winelands most acclaimed vineyards to produce his range. He believes that complete transparency is critical, specifically where it applies to the traceability of a product.

‘People still ask me if we make the wine in Khayelitsha. I grew up in Khayelitsha and am still living in Khayelitsha. I’m not shy to mention that where I’m from, there are no resources to produce wine – and that shouldn’t stop anyone from building their own brand, based on passion and hard work. Today we are proud that have taken this step to inspire and build something extraordinary. It’s possible.’

For a young wine business, the Covid-19 pandemic – and the associated lockdown – came as a huge blow. Says Ndzaba, ‘My business is a small company that is self-reliant in terms of funding, and the alcohol ban affected our sales and cash flow. All of our plans were temporarily put on hold – production was delayed, yet we needed to support our growers to secure the supply chain.’

With the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, Ndzaba’s plans are back in motion. Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines recently launched its new premium wine selection, which is slowly gaining momentum in the market.

However, Ndzaba admits that he is still some way from achieving his business goals, given the set-back incurred by lockdown. ‘We had hoped to have employed at least employed 10 people from our community at this point. It’s a huge challenge that requires us to constantly find solutions to keep on building in these uncertain times.’

As a beneficiary of Tractor Outdoor’s SME Initiative, Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines will receive media exposure across its extensive out of home (OOH) network, as well as PR, social and digital promotion, which Ndzaba believes will go a long way towards helping get his brand in front of more consumers. ‘Wide exposure to the masses who’ve never heard about our company will encourage sales, which is what we really need at the moment.’

Remi du Preez, Commercial Director at Tractor Outdoor, says that new SMEs often mistakenly believe that OOH advertising is not for them, as they do not have the required budget. ‘The reality is that most media owners and planners are able to work with a smaller budget, and will be able to advise you on which inventory will give you the most bang for buck.

‘Outdoor media has a presence like no other, and is the ideal medium for broad and high-impact brand awareness – which will certainly play a significant role in boosting the visibility of an exciting young brand such as Khayelitsha’s Finest Wines.’

Says Ndzaba, ‘I’m excited about the opportunity that the #20in21 SME Initiative has created for us. This is not just about me, it’s about the communities that I’m putting on the map. This will create a good image for the underprivileged communities that have been badly painted. This campaign is going to inspire my peers and the upcoming generations. It’s a big thing.’

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