One could say that over the years the urban area of Soweto (short of South West Townships) in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa has not been known for its contribution to the culinary and wine industry. In fact, the world has become familiar with this part of the country in association with its history of civic unrest and injustice resulting from what was once known as apartheid. Today, Soweto is a residential area that is populated by the most blacks in the country and is building a new reputation for fashion, music, dance and politics.
In 2005, the Cape Wine Academy noticed that the consumption of wine in South Africa had dropped and set to solve the issue by organizing first Soweto Wine Festival. For Selena Cuffe, President of Heritage Link Brands, timing could not been better.
Cuffe was visiting South Africa when she decided to attend the festival and explore the wine offerings. It didn’t take her long to discover one that she liked and after trying to learn where she could purchase it in the States, she was told that distribution was not available and was even very minimum within South Africa. In addition, she learned that black producers were highly misrepresented. Shortly after, Heritage Link Brands was born to give the producers a better chance to thrive.
With administrative offices in Los Angeles and Boston, Heritage Link Brands has graciously entered the wine industry as a preeminent importer and distributor of wine from Africa. Selections come from countries all over the continent including palm wine from Ghana, honey wine from Ethiopia and grape varietals from Tunisia to South Africa. Cuffe soon hopes to add a selection from Cape Verde to the list.
Through Heritage Link Brands, Cuffe and her husband are able to work with some of the industry’s most dynamic wine producers in Africa. Producers include American Roots (Seven Sisters), Bouwland, M’Hudi and Lindiwe. All have amazing stories to compliment their amazing wines. Unfortunately many are unaware that South Africa has a $3 billion wine industry with less than 2 owned by blacks.
Wine lovers in the United States can currently purchase and enjoy these desired imports through Heritage Link Brands’ wine club online, at Whole Foods stores, various wine stores and restaurants across the country. In addition, the company just announced its deal to distribute wines through Albertsons, Shaws, Jewel Osco, and Lucky stores nationwide whichrepresents approximately 700 locations.
This past February, Cuffe was in Atlanta to support the launch of the newly formed organization International Society of Africans in Wine. The organization was founded by Stephen Satterfield to promote cross cultural appreciation of wine and further the economic development in Africa. The event was held at Vino Libro with black winemakers Daniel Bryant from Running Tigers Wine, Seven Sisters and Malmsey Rangaka from M’Hudi in attendance.
Black winemakers and African wine are truly gaining more visibility with the support of organizations and companies such as Heritage Link Brands. Serving as another voice for black producers throughout the continent, Cuffe and her husband have stepped in to provide a missing link between Africa and the rest of the world
To learn more about Heritage Link Brands, visit www.heritagelinkbrands.com