LOCALLY-MADE Sani wine held its own among a host of foreign wines featured at the fourth edition of the Lesotho Wine & Crafts Festival held on Saturday at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village.
Founded by distributor Paulo De Freitas and launched in 2012, the festival is one of the country’s premiere events promoting the country’s wine culture.
It is hosted by Lesotho Wine and showcases wines from as far afield as Cape Town, South Africa. The fete also serves the purpose of exposing locals to various types of wines and how they differ in regard to composition and the methods used to produce them, thereby inspiring Basotho to venture into the industry.
During this year’s edition, over 120 different wines were showcased, with Sani the only locally-produced wine at the fete. It is produced at Sani Wine Estate, a small-scale vineyard located in Ha Ntsi village near Nazareth on the southern outskirts of Maseru. Since hitting the shelves in 2012, Sani is also Lesotho’s first commercial wine offering, and is a joint venture between the Thamae family and the Groot Parys Wine Estate of Western Cape, South Africa.
From only 50 bottles during the first year, production has since increased gradually, with the company producing a total of 400 bottles this year.
According to the company’s representative at the festival, Mothiba Thamae, they were battling to keep up with the demand for the wine which is far outweighing supply.
“We currently cultivate our grapes on a two-hectare plantation which is too small to enable us to meet the rising demand,” Mr Thamae said. “We are actually under immense pressure now that the brand is known overseas, not just by people who encountered it in Lesotho, but also by those who have seen it in their countries.
“Due to the low levels of production, we had to cancel our participation in a wine show that will be held in Asia next year.”
He said they were considering diversifying their products to cater for various tastes.
“At the moment, we are only producing white wine, and a lot of people have been asking for red wine as well,” said Mr Thamae.
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“We have already begun growing red grapes and expecting to produce red wine in 2018. However, on a more exciting note, our third harvest – which is currently fermenting in barrels – will be due next April.”
On his part, Mr De Freitas, said the event was also meant to promote the country’s tourism.
“We are holding the event to promote Lesotho’s tourism sector, with particular attention to local products such as Sani wine and crafts displayed here at the event,” said De Freitas.
“Our efforts are geared towards attracting tourists so they can see what the country has to offer during their visit.
“We are excited to have in our midst of some of the top three wine makers from South Africa who include Ernie Els and Neil Ellis who has not sent a representative but has come physically to grace the occasion.
“This is our fourth year hosting the event and we are growing from strength to strength with the hope of introducing even more of the best selected wines as we have today. What we are able to offer here today is special and we offer an experience that cannot be found in other places.”