Photo Credit: Nadia Takyiwaa-Mensah
Why Nadia Takyiwaa-Mensah Left The U.K. To Help Transform Ghana's Wine Scene
When Nadia Takyiwaa-Mensah started Sai Wine & Champagne Café in 2015, she will tell you that she was answering her calling from God after a visit to Miami and Harlem.
“I went on holiday to Harlem in the United States and my friend took me to a place in Harlem. It was this cute wine, bar, and café. As I was sitting there with him, I heard God say to me, ‘this is what you’re going to do next.’ I was like say what? And no, I was not drunk,” she told Travel Noire jokingly.
She says she looked around and thought it was cute but didn’t think much of what God told her until the second leg of the trip in Miami.
It was still on her mind and spirit in Miami to the point she started thinking about the name of the wine and café.
“My son’s name is Isaiah and from his name, I pulled out ‘sai’, and God said, ‘yes, that’s what you’re going to call it. I was trying to research the meaning of the name on Google and I kept getting the definition weapon. In my spirit, I just knew that was not the meaning, and I remember God telling me that I would find out later.”
Takyiwaa-Mensah is used to stepping out on faith. Her faith is what led her to move to Ghana from the United Kingdom after her son was born.
“I came to Ghana back in 2009 with my four-month-old son. We stayed for six months and God told me to do marketing, so I actually own a marketing agency. I went back to London after six months and I felt like an alien in the UK and nobody could explain it or make sense of it … I couldn’t even make sense of it. I remember saying, ‘I need to go back to Ghana. It’s home.”
After her trip to the United States, she got right to work and began creating a mood board and finding a place for the wine café.
“By the time I was getting ready to open Sai, my research team had come to me and said they found out what the meaning of Sai is. They told me that Indians have a spiritual leader and when they say, ‘Sai Baba” it means Glory to be to God.”
Changing Ghana’s Wine Culure
When Takyiwaa-Mensah opened Sai Wine & Champagne Café, she said wine culture in Ghana only consisted of South African wine on shelves and in the retail shops. In the last six years, wine culture has evolved as more people return home to live and work in Ghana, as well as those from the diaspora investing.
“For a long time, Ghanaians have associated wine with South Africa without actually understanding wine culture. Many people didn’t know what glasses to pour wine in or how to hold a wine glass. Now, there’s an environment where we have wine shops according to specific countries. There’s a Spanish wine shop in Accra now, an Italian wine shop, a California and a South African wine shop.”
She adds there are more wine tasting events and engagement surrounding wine, including at her shop. Sai Wine & Champagne Café has quickly transformed into Accra’s most sought-out gathering spot to enjoy wine and tapas.
But Sai Wine & Champagne Café is more than a beautiful place to enjoy wine. It’s also a kickback, workspace, and overall positive vibe.