First all-black farm in South Africa

First all-black farm in South Africa News Wine News
  • Wednesday 11 July 2001

The Mont Rochelle winery in Franschoek has become the first winery in South Africa to be wholly black-owned.

The 33ha winery has just been sold for R17m (US$2m) to Rwandan businessman Miko Rwayitare, owner and founder of telecommunications company Telecel, and the first foreign African investor to buy a South African winery.

Although he has no winemaking experience, trade body Wines of South Africa has welcomed Rwayitare's entry into the wine business and is excited about the business acumen he will bring to the industry. 'A lot of people come into this industry with a romantic notion of winemaking, but Rwayitare comes armed with sound business principles, too. That's a good combination to have,' said spokesman André Morgenthal.

Rwayitare plans to retire from the telecommunications industry in 2003 and, given his love of fine wines, thought Mont Rochelle was the perfect place to make the transition.

The farm currently produces five wines, including the flagship Jacques de Villiers Cabernet Sauvignon. Staff and infrastructure are expected to remain the same – previous owner Graham de Villiers will stay on as a consultant to Rwayitare for another 18 months, and current winemaker Justin Hoy will be retained.

The most dramatic shift will be in the varietal mix at Mont Rochelle, which is currently 30% red to 70% white. Rwayitare has plans to change that ratio by producing a great red wine. Although pressed by local journalists, Rwayitare would not be drawn on the subject of empowering his workers.

Morgenthal said, 'We're always excited when foreign investors get involved. Now we're looking forward to seeing the action.'

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