Budding winemaker turns apples into wine

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Mr Khabo working on his fermenting wine
Mr Khabo working on his fermenting wine

Bereng Mpaki

SEFATSA Khabo is an ambitious young man who has taught himself the art of producing wine using apples.

Although he is currently in the process of completing his maiden collection of 50 bottles for the market, he dreams of establishing a large winery that will produce at least 500 bottles per year.

His first produce of the Highlands Bliss wine brand will be available from next month on the 30th of December.

The 26-year old who hails from Ha Seshophe in Leribe often wondered how home-made traditional beer would taste after further refinement.

It was that curiosity that led to him to experiment with different kinds of fruits until he arrived at making wine out of apples.

“I started this venture in 2013 experimenting with different fruits such as oranges and grapes but settled for apples because I liked the quality of the wine they produce,” Mr Khabo said, adding that he used the internet to hone his wine-making skills.

He paid tribute to the National University of Lesotho for providing guidance and laboratory facilities “to run experiments to ensure that I attained the right quality”.

Although he is currently out-sourcing raw materials from retailers in the country, Mr Khabo has already begun growing his own apple trees for future use. His plot of land can accommodate 1000 trees.

He has set his sights on supplying the country’s hospitality establishments in order to reach out to tourists.

“Tourists are known for experimenting with local products when they visit a country so we will distribute our product through some hospitality establishments in our area,” he said

Mr Khabo is the sole proprietor of the wine business as well as a small restaurant in his village which are administered under the holding company Mashimi Wines (Pty) Ltd. Mashimi is a local slang used to refer to liquor.

He has been using proceeds from the restaurant to fund the winery and has admitted to challenges in generating enough to grow the business.

“I used my savings to finance the production that is soon to be completed but as you might imagine, my challenge is securing enough financial resources to expand this business.

“I am open to having an investor who will inject funds into the business to help me realise my dream of establishing a large winery,” he said, adding, he had unsuccessfully tried to seek funding through some of the available financing interventions from private and public institutions.

He however said this should not deter the youth from venturing into business as long as they had the passion and patience.

“Even though my winery business needed starting capital of at least M1.5 million, I went ahead and started it without that amount. This shows that I have enough passion and I believe in my venture. We can make a difference as youth, it is possible with passion and patience,” he said.

Although he studied Computer Systems Engineering at Lerotholi Polytechnic, he said he had ventured into wine-making because that was where his passion lay.

“I will probably use my computer engineering skills to start an Information Technology business on the sidelines in future, but for now I am focused on winemaking,” he said.

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