The name itself commands greatness…or even reverence. Few have come close to Nelson Mandela’s international notoriety, a legend who left a legacy of leadership, tolerance and social activism on the entire planet. Maybe Jesus did? But even then it is a toss up.
House of Mandela is a line of FairTrade wines that celebrate the Mandela name. More than Nelson, they celebrate the strong family values established before him, the values that shaped the man he would become and the values that remain today.
At first it feels wrong to be discussing something as seemingly trivial as wine with Maki and Tukwini Mandela (Mandela’s daughter and grand-daughter respectively) and although they specifically requested that we avoid talking politics, it is clear that sustainability on both a social and environmental level is an integral part of this brand’s consciousness.
Within South Africa, the wine industry contributes to 3% of the GDP and employs approximately 350,000 blacks.* House of Mandela (HOM) is working to increase these numbers while simultaneously increasing the number of black grape farmers, the percentage of educated women in the wineworld and the promotion of young black winemakers. A bottle of wine is not just a bottle of grape juice,’ says Tukwini. ‘A lot of blood, sweat and tears go into putting the bottle together and I think people forget that.’
Being FairTrade means that profits from each bottle provide the hardworking farmers and their employees with fair wages, education, healthcare and more. The farms HOM work with are co-op vineyards meaning that employees can purchase a piece of the prestigious house, further contributing to the wine, their community and also their country.
We sampled the Thembu collection, wines created to emulate the agreeable characteristics of the Mandela’s, who are historically part of the Thembu people. Consequently, these wines are laid back, easy-to-drink and refreshing. HOM promises to never make a wine that they wouldn’t enjoy themselves.
Currently, the Sauvignon Blanc is the only House of Mandela wine available in the LCBO but the brand is waiting for approval on a few more varietals. I’m not a Sauvignon Blanc fan but this one was refreshing and light. Grapes from this wine are sourced from two different regions in South Africa, one known for its citrus produce and the other for high mineral soil. It is no surprise that both citrus and minerality are primarily present in this easy drinking summer wine-
I even had a second glass.
The wine bottles are thwart with symbolism: the label showcases Mandela’s famous, colourful madiba shirts, highlighting his informality and easygoing nature. On the cap is a bee, the Mandela family totem. When translated directly, it says, ‘One who is brave enough to go get honey from the honey tree,’ but in essence means ‘One who is brave enough to challenge the status quo.‘ This bee alone personifies Nelson Mandela.
There are fifteen varietals in the House of Mandela ranging from Chardonnay blends to an en-pointe Pinotage. When asked to pick her favourite HOM wine, Tukwini chose their Sparkling Wine saying, ‘We love sparkling wine. We love to celebrate. We will celebrate wedding, promotions, babies[…] or just for celebrations sake. These wines are an embodiment of celebration.‘
House of Mandela wine is more than just wine: Every bottle is a celebration of Mandela family values, an inspration and a step toward a better life.
It’s only a matter of time before they start serving House of Mandela at communion….
Wine Bottle Photo Coutesy of: www.wine.bed-vyne.com