The Non-Alcoholic Wine Brand That This Founder Is Hoping Will Change SA Wine Industry

Updated on 29 August 2019

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Sena Wines is a wine brand with a twist. The brand, which launched in 2017, is non-alcoholic and targeted to the country’s growing emerging middle class that doesn’t drink alcohol.

The brand was launched by Ziyanda Tutu, a qualified winemaker from Ghana based in Johannesburg. Tutu says in an interview with Sowetan that she launched a non-alcoholic brand of wine because she saw a gap in the market and demand for a non-alcoholic wine while she was working at Browns Restaurant as a cellar master and functions co-coordinator.

“There are many reasons that people may not drink alcohol, but they still want something that is sophisticated,”Tutu says in the article.

Tutu follows in the footsteps of Ntsiki Biyela, the owner of Aslina Wines and the first black female winemaker in South Africa, and another winemaker that has challenged the mostly white and male-dominated wine industry.

Being mostly white and male dominated is something the SA wine industry has always been known for. According to Fin24, producers’ group Wines of South Africa (WOSA) says black people only have a 2% share in the wine industry, and have always played the role of labourers and not winemakers.

In the same article, Alan Winde, the Western Cape minister of economic opportunities says there are still few black female winemakers involved in the production process, but there has been a rise in the number of black-owned wine brands.

“The recent years have seen a remarkable number of black female entrepreneurs entering the wine industry,” he says.

Sena Wines launched in 2017 and is currently based in Gauteng, however Tutu says she plans to expand to areas like the Western Cape, a popular destination for vineyards in the country. Tutu says in the Sowetan article that the brand cannot be defined as wine under legislation due to the low alcohol count, but the variations of the brand still include the same flavours as alcoholic brands, including Sena Red, Sena White and Sena Rose and is distributed through online shopping channel Washesha.

Find out more about the new wine brand that could change the South African wine industry.

Q: Why did you choose winemaking?
I wanted to do this for more than five years. I saw a gap in the market in the years that I was working at Browns as a cellar master and functions coordinator. There are many reasons that people may not drink alcohol, but they still want something that is sophisticated and adult. Fewer people are drinking because of the drinking and driving laws.

I also have friends who enjoy wine and have become pregnant. There is no substitute for them. I always joke that that is the reason I do not have children of my own. What will I drink for nine months? I love my wine! I myself fast alcohol from time to time, but I still need to have a sophisticated alternative. Very few to none exist. They are either too sugary or they just do not have the wine taste and feel.

Sena Wines Bottles 500 x 330

Q: Where does your knowledge and love of wine come from?
My love for wine and all things drink is something that has been in my family for a long time. My maternal grandfather was a rep for Gordon’s gin.

My mother worked with wine in the hospitality space and later as a public relations officer for KWV Wine Emporium. I would sit in on her training sessions as a child and that sparked my love for the vine. Fortunately there was a bursary from the National department of Agriculture available at the time and I was able to study debt free. So I took up the opportunity and went to study Viticulture and Oenology at Stellenbosch University.

Q: Where is Sena Wines currently being sold?
Right now it is only available in Gauteng. I have been taking orders personally on my phone and email. In Gauteng I am using an online company called Washesha. They have these cool green and black bikes to deliver groceries and alcohol to your door in two hours. They have been amazing in getting my wines to my customers!

I am opening up to the Western Cape and Natal by the end of November. I am also arranging export into West Africa and East Africa in the weeks to come.

Q: Are you planning on expanding the brand to international markets?
I have plans to expand. I have already started exporting to the small neighboring kingdom of Swaziland. This is going global it is big!

Q. Are there any other reasons why you decided to launch a non-alcoholic wine as opposed to an alcoholic brand?
It is lower in calories. The white wine for instance is only 52 kJ per 100ml. But why is anyone counting?

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