Photo Credit: @criene via Twenty20
How The Black Cellar Club Is Adding Color To South Africa’s Wine Scene
Black Sommeliers Matter.
Not only do they matter, but we need to see more. And that’s exactly what the creators of The Black Cellar Club (BLACC) in South Africa had in mind when they launched in 2016.
BLACC was initiated by the South African-based company Vula Afrika, whose directors, Julie Killias, Ian Manley, and Aubrey Ngcungama realized a genuine need to achieve Black empowerment in the wine industry within the Republic of South Africa and throughout the African continent.
Gregory Mutambe, an executive member of BLACC, says the creation of the nonprofit is personal.
“Like my fellow board members, the wine was not something I grew up with. My parents never drank wine at the dinner table,” he said. “Yes, there was alcohol, but certainly not wine. This is the case for most Black Africans. With BLACC, our aim is to change this scenario, to change perceptions around wine, and to facilitate making wine and the knowledge thereof accessible to all South Africans by raising awareness about it.”
BLACC’s executive team is comprised of a majority of Black professional sommeliers who want to enhance the wine industry’s growth and serve but educate both stakeholders and consumers about local wine farms and workers.
“There is a huge emerging black middle class in South Africa and Africa for whom affordability is not an issue. We know this to be the case with this market segment as we have seen it in their spending power when it comes to buying high ends imported products such as Champagne and Cognac,” said Pearl Oliver-Mbumba, chairperson of BLACC. “I believe this to be an enormous untapped market and one whose buy-in can only benefit the whole of the South African wine industry. When there is a better and more locally-focused wine culture amongst Black Africans, there will be a higher demand for locally produced wines.“