Initiated by South African based bespoke representation company Vula Afrika; Black Cellar Club (BLACC) launched in September of this year.
Having listened to and participated in many passionate discussions about wine and the wine industry with their colleagues in the South African hospitality sector, directors at Vula Afrika, Ian Manley and Aubrey Ngcungama realised that there was a genuine need for an organization that could reach out to black Africans who were interested in furthering their wine knowledge. So together with those same colleagues they created BLACC.
BLACC’s executive board comprises of:
- Gregory Mutambe – Chairman (Head sommelier at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa)
- Luvo Ntezo – Deputy Chairman (Head sommelier at One&Only Cape Town)
- Joseph T Dafana – Secretary General (Head sommelier at La Colombe Restaurant)
- Pearl Oliver – Deputy Secretary General (Head sommelier at the Taj Cape Town)
- Mercy Mwai – Treasurer General (Head sommelier at Nobu Cape Town)
- Aubrey Ngcungama – Ambassador (Director at Vula Afrika)
- Ian Manley – PR & Media Executive (Director at Vula Afrika)
Gregory Mutambe, Chairman of BLACC, explains that the Club is a very personal initiative. “Like my fellow board members, wine was not something I grew up with. My parents never drank wine at the dinner table. 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.”
“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 end imported products such as Champagne and Cognac. 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 of locally produced wines.“
“We aim to raise the consumption per capita of wine by adding more people into the wine market as opposed to current drinkers consuming more. And of utmost importance, of course, is the raising of awareness with regards to correct use of alcohol and promotion of responsible drinking. Our aim is also to nurture and support wine professionals and those wanting to enter the industry both in South Africa and in the rest of the African continent so that they too can enjoy and love industry and its wines as we do.”
Luvo Ntezo, BLACC deputy Chairman, has, since the early 2000’s been passionate about spreading the wine word. According to him “The townships consume the least liters of premium wine. It’s not a matter of price. If it was, then premium Cognac, single malts and high-end branded vodkas wouldn’t thrive as they do.”
“A goal and objective of mine has always been to convince those living in the townships to try wines; good wines. It isn’t easy but it’s not hard either. I’ve realized that it starts with a little enlightened roadshow. The Cape Winelands are so welcoming and hospitable. I’ve taken a number of township friends to the winelands in the last number of years.
By doing so, it has given them confidence by association (‘I’ve been there, nice place and great wines they have’). I lived in the townships before, I speak the language, I easily navigate my way around and I now sit in a position of privilege and knowledge and access and I want to share that. I’d love to see more black people drink wine as their first choice, and also produced locally. It is in all our interest to support business within our own continent. BLACC is a means of doing so”.
BLACC, is a voluntary association established and managed according to its Constitution and guided by its primary mandate and object. The object of BLACC is to advance a public benefit through social activities and cultural interests. This object aims to achieve Black empowerment in the wine industry, both within the Republic of South Africa and throughout the African continent.
Commercial activity may be undertaken by the Club, however, all such activities will be subsidiary to stated objects. Importantly, all profits generated by the Club will be strictly reinvested into the Club for the benefit of its members and in furthering the Club’s object.
The activities of the Club will include, but are not limited to; the provision of academic development for previously disadvantaged South Africans; providing educational initiatives centered on creating responsible drinking awareness; creating shared value in the South African wine industry and increasing inclusion of black South Africans in this sector of the economy.
In order to achieve the broadly stated objects of the Club, BLACC will adhere to the following key tenets:
BLACC’s Purpose and Objectives
- BLACC is a vehicle seeking to bridge the gap between existing stakeholders within the wine and greater beverage sector – using its existing network and skilled executive team for the broader benefit of the wine producing industry.
- BLACC seeks to enhance the growth of the wine industry while working hand in hand with the wine farmers, workers and interested parties.
- BLACC is committed to the interconnectivity of the African wine industry with its fledgling group of members hailing from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
- Central to BLACC’s mission is the promotion of the responsible use of alcohol through a series of planned engagements between the public and its members.
- BLACC seeks to create mutually beneficial relationships with already existing players in the wine industry. In order to achieve these goals, BLACC will approach all interested parties in good faith and in the interests of creating shared value.
- While BLACC is an association focused on the promotion of black empowerment, it is not a workers union of any manner or form. Therefore, BLACC will not represent its members in disputes arising in the workplace.
- BLACC’s executive team will be made up of at least 75% who are black professional sommeliers.
“I’m immeasurably proud of being a part of this great initiative and as part of our plans we very much look forward to presenting BLACC’s own flotilla of premium beverages to the market in the near future”, stated Aubrey Ngcungama.