Dr. Maki and Tukwini Mandela, daughter and granddaughter respectively of the legendary activist and Nobel Peace Prize honoree Nelson Mandela, have navigated the House of Mandela Wine brand since 2010. In a white and male dominated industry in South Africa, the Mandelas have managed to break barriers together and expand their wine empire worldwide.
“We started the business as a way to pay homage to our ancestors and as a way to tell our family story without politicizing it,” explains Tukwini Mandela when asked about the origins of the company. “Wine was a vehicle that enabled us to do that.”
“To us legacy, lineage and ancestry are very important – The lessons learned from our ancestors affect our past, present and future,” she says. They credit the rise of the Black middle-class of South Africa to the popularity of the reasonably-priced wine. Now seen as “something more aspirational and a lifestyle choice” for the nation’s citizens, the Mandelas are encouraging more Blacks to enter the wine industry and women to become entrepreneurs.
Charity is a huge aspect of the House of Mandela company. Their work with the St. Mary’s and My Life Foundations uphold Nelson Mandela’s storied humanitarian ideals. The Foundation operates as “a private school in South Africa that helps young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds obtain a private school education”, while My Life “helps rehabilitate impoverished children living on the streets”, states Dr. Maki Mandela.
According to Tukwini, Nelson was well-aware of the business venture and gave his endorsement. She added that the former South African president “always stated very clearly that he was shaped by the values and customs of his ancestors. We are simply carrying in the same vein.”
Tasting their brand’s 2014 Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon showcased why House of Mandela wines have been sold across the world in countries such as Japan, Germany, Brazil, Canada, and China. To ensure a quality product, the Mandelas claim that “a rigorous tasting process” has been implemented “to ensure that each wine variety is accented with a touch of aromatic fruit flavor and palatable oak.”
The Blanc paired perfectly with seafood pasta, which consisted a garlic-cream base that accentuated the slightly spicy scallops, shrimp smoked sausage, and grated goat cheese topping the linguine of the dish. Served chilled, the crisp and smooth taste of the Blanc belied the reality of the drink’s 13% alcohol by volume status. This white wine is made for the weekends, springtime, and vacations.
The Cabernet Sauvignon was a bit stronger with its alcohol level at a full bodied 14%. This libation is best paired with red meat and vegetables, preferably grilled or smoked. Bitter or bold-tasting foods do well with the Cabernet. The intense and fruity but dry taste emblazoned both class and sophistication with each sip. Dinner parties aren’t complete without a bottle of this red wine.
Offering sage words to young Blacks, the Mandelas’ message to the youth is to “be strong, determined, consistent and focused. Resilience is the key to success and there is always a silver lining somewhere.” Dr. Maki and Tukwini Mandela are shining examples of how far Black women can advance in business due to ingenuity, unity, and diligence.
Visit houseofmandela.com to learn more of this successful, Black women-led family company and where to purchase the product. Later this year, they plan to embark on a social media campaign to engage with customers “on a more personal level”, says Tukwini.
The Mandelas have just two words for the wine drinkers of the United States: “stay tuned”.