South African female winemakers have made considerable strides in producing the world’s best wines.
Wine making in South Africa dates back to the 1650s with Constantia, Koni Winesa female run enterprise has made it’s mark in adding on to this magnificent wine history. Koni Wines was founded by Koni Maliehe in 2015; the company was born of curiosity that became passion to serve and make a difference by creating jobs for Africa.
Koni Maliehe is from Johannesburg, she was born in Soweto, Rockville. Like many black South Africans, who lived in most cities and villages of South Africa, and who was raised by grandparents, Koni stayed with her grandparents in Sterkspruit, while her parents lived and worked in Carletonville, a mine area outside Johannesburg. Maliehe then later decided to settle in Cape Town, where she started her corporate career in the financial services after her studies.The young Koni was not certain on the career path she wanted to follow, so at first she studied fashion then marketing and finally settled to pursue Business Management at the University of Cape Town’s Business School. Koni then went on to study Human Resources at the University of South Africa. Her early career started in the banking sector and later insurance sector, where she ended her successful Human Resources Management career in 2014.
The birth of Koni Wines was influenced by Koni’s curiosity and passion for South African wines, and also the love to inspire others through her story. Having visited most of the prolific vineyards in Cape Town, her curiosity led her to start her own wine business which she passionately pursed to give birth to what the company is today. One of her favourite quotes reads ‘Dreams only die, if you let them starve’ which translates to the dedication and hard work which she put in, to make the company the success it is today.
Journey of black owned wineries is never easy, as perceptions and stereotypes are still visible. Black owned wines are still regarded as “low class, cheap wines” so the public and industry importers tend to want to buy quality wines for almost nothing. Being a black female in the male dominated wine industry and even fewer females in the sector was a major drawback which had countless challenges, she reminisces. If she had focused on all the negative energy in the sector at the inception of her start-up company and not looked beyond it, all her efforts would have gone to waste.
One of the major challenges as she points-out is lack of consistent support from government agencies and funders. Koni adds on that, she always wonders why her country is not willing to take risk on her and also that who should? However there are agencies which are starting to come on board, and her tenacity and ability to bounce back, is starting to show results and being noticed. In light of all these hardships Koni managed to overcome and went on to become a force to be reckoned with in the wine industry in South Africa.
Koni draws her drive and strength from her late grandparents who taught her resilience, hard work and to pursue her goals. Her grandparents also instilled in her a spiritual moral campus which has influenced her relationship with God; the high power that holds and protects her, and her business.
Koni Maliehe collaborates with a boutique wine farm in the Stellenbosch, where Koni Wines are produced. All grapes which are used to make Koni Wines are hand-picked, sorted and vinified to produce a rich full bodied, character filled taste of South African class. The grapes are sourced in the Stellenbosch region, known for its unique and rich vineyard soil types and idle climate famous for production of the ‘noble grape’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Koni Wines, an African Tale range produces six cultivars namely Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot/Cab Blend, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The company’s main goal centres on creating jobs and making a meaningful contribution to the country and also the continent’s economy. Koni Wines thrives on quality, hence the company’s values of conducting its operations with integrity. In future Koni Wines seeks to find new markets for its wines first in the continent, then overseas. Koni Wines epitomizes the zenith of a distinct fine taste of quality, class and sophistication in South Africa’s wine business.