The Wine Shaq
Wine retailer | Entrepreneur
In the industry since 2010
A seen on BBC
Nomhle Zondani’s first trip abroad was to São Paulo in 2012. ‘I thought Brazil was all about human trafficking!’ She was there at the behest of The Township Winery, where she worked with Graham Knox for seven years. After the tradeshows and the meet-and-greets were over, she set out to explore the city for a few days. She negotiated the language and the transportations system, establishing her own contacts and finding her own way. ‘I’d never done anything like it before.’
Nomhle has always been something of a risk-taker. Not for the sake of it, of course. But if something appeals to her passions, she takes the plunge. In her early career, she ‘did what was expected’ of her in the corporate world – at Sanlam, in customer relations. She’s grateful for the skillset she acquired – ‘I can talk to all sorts of people!’ – but knew when it was time to leave. And leap. ‘I think I always had it in me.’ A conversation with a friend led her to Graham Knox, and The Township Winery in 2010. It was a brave new venture, producing wine from an industrial space in Philippi.
At the time, Nomhle knew red and white, sweet and dry – but not much else. So, in 2011, she attended the Cape Wine Academy – rediscovering her palate and kindling a new passion. Sipping wine at 11am was an experience unlike any in the insurance industry. ‘But I felt like I’d been doing it all my life!’
In 2016, she took her next plunge, opening the Wine Shaq based in Langa (and online). ‘I knew I had the skills.’ It’s a retail offering designed to sell products by black winemakers, attract new drinkers, and broaden the market. She notes that many South Africans can’t even get to the winelands. For those in busy urban centres, it may sometimes feel like a foreign country. So, the Wine Shaq is there to make things more accessible. Indeed, the education process shouldn’t feel like education at all.
Nomhle’s ambitions for the Wine Shaq are to grow it into a ‘21st century wine experience’. She loves the energy of a broad social project: curating wine, conversations, and even jazz. Nomhle is quick with a smile, but also, on occasion, quietly contemplative. ‘I am content now, doing something that I love.’