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Lubanzi Wines

Transformation is not something that only large producers with hefty social responsibility projects can do. Two young Americans came travelling in Africa, fell in love with the country and its wine and decided to make it their business but also their mission to uplift those in need, through their success.

1.       How did you get to make wine in Africa?

Not the normal path that's for sure! Walker and I met travelling around South Africa and fell in love with the country. We always dreamed of staying connected with the country somehow and wine became the perfect fit for us. I had some family background in the wine business back in the US and Walker and I always felt like South African wine deserved to be better represented in the USA. So many people here are hardly aware of the country's wine and we started the business in large part because we wanted to put our passion to work and share something we knew was amazing.

We called our wines Lubanzi after a stray dog that attached himself to us while we were hiking along the Wild Coast.

2.       Who makes your wine for you? What wines do you produce and where do the grapes come from?

Trizanne Barnard and Bruce Jack make our wine for us. They are both fantastic. Triz has been our more hands-on winemaker, and has been an amazing partner. We liaise back and forth with her frequently and I think she has always fit so well with us because she has the entrepreneurial spirit that we are all about. Bruce is a genius when it comes to not only wine, but also branding and business, so we often seek his advice when we are back in SA and feel lucky to have him involved! The grapes come from Leeuwenkuil, and we're working with fruit primarily from the Swartland region. When we started this project we could always feel the energy and excitement coming out of the Swartland and knew we wanted to be a part of that.

3.       How did the partnership with Pebbles arise?

When Walker and I were touring around SA's wine region in 2016 in search of a partner for producing the wines, everyone in the industry kept mentioning these folks called The Pebbles Project. They would tell us how amazing they were and how they would be the perfect fit for us. So we reached out to them and first met with Sophia back in 2016. After hearing their story and seeing their work we knew they were the right partner.

4.       Where does your money get spent within Pebbles?

Our money spent with Pebbles goes back to two projects currently. The first is sponsoring medical and dental care for the children who live on Leeuwenkuil's farm near Malmesbury. That includes access and transportation to the Pebbles's clinic as well as visits to the farm from an oral hygienist. The other portion goes to supporting Pebbles's Early Learning Development centres.

5.       Do you have any future plans to expand your involvement with Pebbles?

Yes! We're focused on growing our commitment to Pebbles as we grow. Over time we're really hoping to grow enough to be able to make a pretty significant impact in the Winelands community with them. We were able to double our give-back in our second year and will hopefully keep the same progress coming each year.

6.       How has the US market received your wines?

It's only been about 15 months since we launched, but we've had a great reception on the wines in the US. We're currently selling the wine in states all across the country and while it's important to stress that every state in America is quite different, they all seem to have an excitement for South Africa.

7.       Does your social involvement make a difference to the US consumer?

The wine and packaging are the two most important things without a doubt, but our mission and our values both seem to help the brand stick with customers and keep them coming back. I think when it comes to our social mission and the story of Lubanzi, customers are excited to find brands that share their values and outlook on the world, in a way that goes beyond the wine.

8.       Do SA wines have a good reputation in the US and if so, are you able to piggy-back on that?

SA has a very small but quickly changing reputation in the US. Many consumers don't know South Africa makes wine and if they do know they can't name many brands. However, it's changing and there's a lot of excitement in the food and wine community about the future of SA wine in America.

9.       Is this your ‘day job’ or do you do other work as well?

This is a full-time job for both Walker and I and I don't think we'd have it any other way.

Lubanzi Wines | www.lubanziwines.com
 

- Julia Moore