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Moedi Wines champions beekeeping in rural South Africa at ProWein 2024

07 March 2024

  • Lesego Serolong Holzapfel:

Moedi Wines, a new female-owned African wine brand, is set to make waves at ProWein 2024 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Founded by Lesego Serolong Holzapfel, Moedi not only showcases premium South African wines globally but also emphasises sustainability, African heritage, and community empowerment through the craft of beekeeping.

This year, South Africa commemorates 30 years of democracy and 365 years of its wine industry, which now employs over a quarter million people in its value chain.

"Amid our challenges, there is much to celebrate," Holzapfel reflects. "In 1994, it was nearly impossible for any black wine producers to participate in ProWein, and yet here we are."

Growing its wine exports from only 50 million litres in 1994, South Africa ranked as the sixth-largest wine exporter globally in 2022, at 440 million litres. Despite a dip to an estimated 306 million litres in 2023, Holzapfel envisions the industry’s potential to expand its wine exports and further increase the value per litre.

"In a new South Africa where collaboration flourishes, both black and white winemakers are crafting some of the world's finest wines and Cap Classique,” she says. “I believe our story must be shared with the world; it is a story of hope, friendship, and excellence."

At ProWein 2024, Moedi is launching three single varietals – Chenin Blanc, Mourvèdre Rosé, and Shiraz – handpicked from the prominent Swartland region’s dryland vineyards, known for producing complex, rich, yet easily drinkable wines. Moedi’s wines will be available soon in South Africa, the United States, the Netherlands, and Denmark.

Holzapfel believes the brand stands out for its quality as well as her focus on sustainability and impact. Originally from the North West province bordering Botswana, Holzapfel is committed to rural livelihood. Her food production career has been dedicated to creating rural income. In 2023, her Bokamoso enterprises won two important South African National Presidential Awards: one for Social Enterprise of the Year and the other for Breaking Ground Small Business.

The brand name "Moedi," pronounced "mu-e-di," means 'a stream of water' in her native Setswana language. She created this brand based on the belief that, just as water brings life, so do wine and honey. According to Holzapfel, Moedi Wines not only entices the palate but also supports honey farmers and funds scholarships for orphans in rural villages, with 10% of all profits donated.

Bee Loved Honey infuses Black Bee Brut

"When you drink Moedi Wines, you assist African honey farmers to generate a sustainable, ethical income,” Holzapfel says. After she realised South Africa was a net importer of honey, despite having an abundance of honeybees, she created business structures to empower rural beekeepers in remote villages.

“We have built over 1 000 hives; we have provided training and mentorship to more than 50 beekeepers; and we buy their honey at fair wholesale prices for our retail brand, Bee Loved Honey," she explains. “In this way, we create a sustainable ecosystem.”

Holzapfel emphasises, “Bees play a crucial role as pollinators, aiding biodiversity and the health of our environmental ecosystem. Some of the beekeepers also cultivate grapes for wine. Although bees do not pollinate vines, we can empower people in the value chain by helping them to diversify their income and become stewards of the soil."

A recent collaboration with Franschhoek-based Black Elephant Vintners & Co. led to the creation of the Black Elephant Vintners X Moedi Wines Cap Classique Black Bee Brut. This Cap Classique receives a dosage – or a ‘top up’ – with honey. The wine embodies the spirit of both brands, celebrating the beauty and strength that emerge when diverse talents and cultures unite. “While the African elephant reigns over the bush, it's the small African honeybee that creates boundaries around the entire bush ecosystem for the elephant and all its animals, driving food security through pollination,” Holzapfel explains.

The 'o' in Moedi represents the honeycomb of the beehive, symbolising collaboration with friends. “We cherish building bridges to bring a part of Africa to the world through wine, and the world back to Africa through impact.”

Giving back to Raise the Children

Holzapfel’s impact continues to inspire and change lives. Together with her husband, Neil, she co-founded Raise the Children International, a South African non-profit providing scholarships to orphans with leadership potential.

"Since 2012, we've assisted 176 scholars in accessing quality education," shares Holzapfel, an orphan herself, whose journey includes seven transformative years in the United States.

Meet the beekeeping wine ambassador at ProWein

South Africa’s beekeeping wine ambassador is as at ease on any international stage as she is in a beekeeper suit. Look out for Holzapfel from 10 to 12 March 2024, at ProWein, Düsseldorf. Taste Moedi’s exceptional wines at the Wines of South Africa (WoSA) exhibition, Hall 14, Block A70, Stand 3.