Cape Town is home to some of the best wines in the world and with big brands such as Steenberg and Eagle’s Nest dominating the industry, it’s no wonder the Mother City is viewed as the wine tasting destination of Africa. But among giants, one Zimbabwean man has managed to create a reputation for himself in this very niche sector of winemaking. Tongai Joseph Dhafana is the founder of Mosi Wines, a wine and gin label from Cape Town, that has caused a frenzy among the restaurants in the area since its launch.
Tongai, whose name means ‘to rule’ in the Shona language, is doing just that with his wine and gin brand, while also flying the flag high for his country as an award-winning sommelier. His story is truly inspirational, having been born and raised in the small communal area of Churumhanzu, Zimbabwe, before later moving to South Africa with his wife, in search of a better economic prospects.
He worked as a gardener in Riebeek Kasteel, a vineyard in Cape Town, while also studying. This is where it all began; his fascination for vines and their life cycle as well as the process of turning grapes into wine. Tongai used any opportunity he would get to taste wine and before he knew it, his palette was sharp enough to taste the difference in standards from each vineyard.
After spending time with various winemakers, particularly Chris Mullineux of Mullineux Family Wines, Tongai supervised his first vintage in 2014. His passion for wine tasting and experience in the winemaking business set the path for his creation of Mosi Wines, a wines and gin selection named after Mosi-O-Tunya, which means “the smoke that thunders” when describing the majestic Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
From humble beginnings to an industry trailblazer
What makes his story so intriguing, is that Tongai tenaciously worked himself into being recognized as a winemaking mastermind, having penetrated a white-dominated market as a black man with humble beginnings as a migrant worker in South Africa. Tongai’s unique product quickly spoke to the middle class wine connoisseur, and with his becoming a part of the Black Cellar Club (BLACC), a South African Association that supports black winemakers in an industry where they are in the strong minority, Tongai is quick to chime in on the importance of hard work. Working hard is the recipe for success”, he says, and his story is a true testament to that. Tongai entered the winemaking business as a black Zimbabwean man in South Africa and is trailblazing in his own right today.
From the Mosi cellar
Mosi Tinashe Chenin Blanc 2019
A white wine made with grapes from 2 Swartland vineyards, one on granite, and the other on shale, the Mosi Tinashe Chenin Blanc 2019 is spontaneously fermented and matured for 12 months in older oak and is flavored with a note of potpourri and nartjie, apple and stone fruit plus spice, and some yeasty character in the background. It’s a perfect mix of fruit concentration matched by zesty acidity on the palate.
Mosi Flavian Syrah 2018
A full-bodied red wine made with grapes from a vineyard planted on shale near Riebeek Kasteel. The wine is fermented and matured for 18 months in first-, second- and third fill barrels. This wine has a very intense flavor, made with plenty of red and blackberries plus a little floral perfume and white pepper. While the palate is fairly bursting with fruit, the tannins are quite soft.
Mosi Wamambo Gin
This signature Mosi Gin is made with botanicals mostly from Zimbabwe in Churumhanzu, combined with and some from South Africa. It carries notes of Eucalyptus, lemon verbena, citrus, offering a good balance in acidity.
Tongai – the Award-winning Sommelier
He is also the Head Sommelier at La Colombe, one of the best fine dining establishments in Cape Town, and is a part of the South African Sommelier team. In 2015, the team won the SA Wine Tasting Championships and went on to participate in the world championships in France. Fast forward to just last year, where Tongai was awarded the “Eat Out Wine Service Award” for his role as Head Sommelier at La Colombe.
When it came to building his brand, Tongai spares no expense, putting in the hours to ensure that Mosi Wines truly stands out among the best of them. The special attention to detail in creating the ultimate wine tasting experience, while also paying homage to his homeland are all important elements of the Mosi Wine brand. When you buy a Mosi bottle of wine, you are also taken on a virtual tour of the roaring Victoria Falls, through a label scan feature on the bottle! Mosi Wines are made from 100% South African grapes with minimal chemical additives, heightening the taste and quality in each glass served.
Visit https://www.mosiwinesandspirits.com/ to learn more about Mosi Wines