Fine Wines by Mayime Winery
Inspired by its local community, the Fine Wines by Mayime Winery capture the very essence of the beautiful Eastern Cape and the unique, vibrant and colourful culture of its people.
The Fine Wines by Mayime Winery is the wine of choice for locals and visitors who want to experience an authentic expression of this remarkable place and people, while supporting a growing local community in the heart of the Eastern Cape Winelands.
The first vineyard in South Africa to produce a community-owned wine, Mayime Winery produces fine wines that embodies the soul of the land and its Xhosa people, under the watchful eye of winemaker and viticulturist, Vumile Makapela, who grew up in the community and - after qualifying with a B. Agric degree in Oenology and Viticulture far from home at Stellenbosch - returned to help turn this semi-rural community into a thriving winery.
The first wine was bottled under the “Inkosi” (the Xhosa/Zulu word for “the Chief”) label in 2016. “Inkosi” is still the superb flagship wine produced at Mayime Winery, as well as the newly launched range of Winterberg Heritage wines that celebrates this beautiful mountainous area of the Eastern Cape. The Xhosa tradition of “umchokozo” (face painting with white dots) is celebrated with distinctive stippled raised dots on the Inkosi wine bottle labels.
Situated near the semi-rural town of Whittlesea, Mayime Winery is nestled among some of the Eastern Cape’s most dramatic inland mountain ranges including the Amatole, Winterberg, Stormberg and Drakensberg mountains on a semi-arid plateau of red “Karoo” soil crossed by the Klipplaat River. Mayime wines benefit from the dry climate with cool nights and little humidity, and the red soil that is perfect for growing the Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Colombard grapes planted over 12ha of land in the Shiloh District.
Mayime is more than just a winery – this unique social development programme has empowered a community to grow into a sustainable agricultural cooperative. Its holistic approach to community development and sustainable land use has proven an enduring good business practice that benefits both the community and wine lovers across South Africa, Africa and abroad.
The Mayime Primary Agricultural Cooperative, located near the town of Whittlesea in the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, has successfully established a wine grape enterprise, as well as a dairy enterprise.
This community project is a joint venture between the Mayime Primary Agricultural Cooperative, with a 55% shareholding, and FarmInvest, which holds a 45% shareholding, and forms part of a social development programme of the Chris Hani District Municipality and the Chris Hani Development Agency.
The Mayime Cooperative is continuously searching for opportunities to improve its income-generation activities and to create jobs for its 395 members, who reside in the town and townships where the unemployment rate is around 30% - forcing community members to seek jobs in big cities, far away from their friends and family.
In 2011, the Mayime Cooperative took control of their destiny and began to develop a dairy business, including the creation of a share-milking trust. A year later, the Cooperative established a wine grape planting programme at the Shiloh Irrigation Scheme, starting with 5ha of grapes, including Pinotage, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Colombard. An additional 7ha of grapes was planted in 2015.
Today, the Mayime vineyards provides employment for many community members, including a qualified viticulturist and wine maker, 10 permanent general maintenance workers and, during harvesting time, approximately 100 casual workers.
Since the outset of Mayime’s wine venture, the cooperative has received support from GENEX, a United States-based farmer cooperative that is implementing a Cooperative Development Program funded by the United States Agency for International Development. GENEX has provided capacitation in business and cooperative governance, training in grape production and networking with value-chain support. As a provider of bovine genetics, GENEX views the wine venture as a stabilizing diversification that will ultimately benefit Mayime’s other cooperative activities such as dairy production. Today, through its USAID-funded activity, GENEX continues to bring cooperative governance capacitation, technical training and explore new avenues of creating relevant services for Mayime’s members.
Future plans involve planting 100ha of wine grapes over a five-year period, through the partnership with FarmInvest – a subsidiary of FarmVision, an organisation dedicated to the establishment, planning and development of strategic agricultural projects in Africa.
This partnership will also see the construction of a 100-ton winery, complete with a high quality, high performance pneumatic Bucher Vaslin French grape press to ensure the complete value chain - including bottling and labelling – is located within the community, creating more jobs. A wine cellar for storing and aging wine and a tasting room for visitors to the vineyard are also under development, contributing to a more vibrant wine-tourism industry in the area.
The building of the winery and further investment to build the primary agriculture in the Whittlesea area will amount to approximately R22 million - a significant boost for the local economy.