Hope and pride: Zimbabweans put the country on the map in world of wine | Global development

Like many younger Zimbabweans earlier than and since, Tinashe Nyamudoka left the financial chaos of his country to search out work and a greater life for himself in neighbouring South Africa.

When he left in 2008, Nyamudoka had by no means tasted wine. Now, he ranks amongst southern Africa’s prime sommeliers and has his personal wine label with worldwide gross sales.

“We’ve got loads going in opposition to us as Zimbabweans, and you may assume there may be nothing good popping out of the country,” says the 36-year-old. “So, for me to be recognised as the [top] sommeliers in the world, being African and Zimbabwean, instils a way of hope and satisfaction.”

Nyamudoka started his profession as a waiter in a Cape City restaurant, the place he realized about the totally different varieties and tastes of the wines his clients drank. He moved on to change into a resort wine waiter, working alongside some of the metropolis’s main sommeliers.


After learning his commerce, he received the greatest wine steward award in a contest for luxurious resorts in the Western Cape in 2013.

Tinashe Nyamudoka sniffs a glass of wine
Tinashe Nyamudoka first realized about wine tasting whereas working as a waiter in Cape City. {Photograph}: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

His abilities obtained worldwide consideration when, in 2017, he and three different Zimbabwean sommeliers had been chosen to participate in the World Blind Tasting Championship in France. The staff was the first from Zimbabwe to participate in the contest, in which rivals have to make use of simply their palate to determine the selection of grape, country of origin, appellation, classic and producer of the wines.

The Zimbabweans didn’t win – coming twenty third out of 24 groups – however their story turned the topic of a documentary launched final yr, Blind Ambition, which Nyamudoka says introduced him “a way of satisfaction”. The staff returned to the competitors the subsequent yr and this time got here 14th – beating the UK and the US groups.

His wine label, Kumusha – “residence” or “roots” in Zimbabwe’s Shona language – has benefited from his movie star, producing 200,000 bottles a yr, up from 1,200 when it was launched 4 years in the past. “Individuals began embracing it,” he says.

“I conceptualised it [the label] round 2014,” he provides. “Xenophobia was hitting residence [in South Africa] and we had been all lacking kumusha.”

The eight Kumusha wines – three reds, 4 whites and a rosé – are all produced in South Africa. They’re offered in the US, the Netherlands, Kenya and Zimbabwe – “my thrilling market”, he says. This month, he’s beginning to export his wines to the UK.

“I began this model from scratch with no support or monetary handouts. It has been pure grit, ardour and dedication,” he says. “I need folks to grasp that you would be able to make it with out prejudice.”

However Nyamudoka says he has encountered racism on his option to the prime of a white-dominated trade.

“There are cases the place you get to a tasting, and it’s all white [people], you sort of really feel out of place. At work, you can’t get the place you need since you are black. It comes in totally different kinds. It’s not apparent, it’s way more delicate,” he says.

A bottle of Kumusha red wine
Kumusha’s cabernet sauvignon and cinsault, from the Slanghoek area of the Western Cape. It is going to be launched in the UK this month. {Photograph}: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

“After I was in my final days on the ground [in a restaurant], folks would recognise your expertise, however they might not provide you with your flowers [recognition] as a result of you aren’t like them. It’s like you will need to work twice as exhausting to show your self. It’s at all times going to be there, I suppose.”


Nyamudoka, who sits on the board of the not too long ago established Sommeliers Affiliation of Zimbabwe, hopes that his achievements will encourage different Zimbabweans to enter the wine trade.

“There’s been an emergence of black sommeliers in the world as the trade turns into extra various. We see the hospitality providing in Zimbabwe bettering and there will probably be a necessity for sommeliers.”

A fellow sommelier, Takura Makadzange, agrees. Additionally from Harare, Makdazange, 38, educated in Australia, working his means up from resort porter to restaurant proprietor. Now, he’s again in Zimbabwe.

“I got here again residence as a result of there are a lot of alternatives. There’s a lot of area in hospitality. Just lately there was extra of an explosion in the meals and drink sector in Zimbabwe, particularly speciality wines which are being made now.

“The trade has grown, the fish trade has grown and we will have entry to wildlife and recreation meat. Selling the native meals and beverage trade is a no brainer. We’ve got one thing that nobody else does. Nationwide satisfaction is essential but in addition we have now stunning merchandise,” he says.

Makadzange certified for final month’s Ubuntu Sommelier Trophy in South Africa, however needed to withdraw when he caught Covid-19.

“There are cases the place a less-qualified white particular person is trusted with taking care of the wine listing over any particular person of color, however you must preserve transferring,” he says.

“It is extremely uncommon for a Zimbabwean to do effectively in this subject. We wish to proceed that trajectory.

“I believe it’s time we have now extra ladies sommeliers from Zimbabwe so, hopefully, I’ll prepare somebody to get to the commonplace of competing.”

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