Local wine brand makes an international mark

’MAKERESEMESE LETUKA

MASERU – Local brand ‘Mashimi Wines’ has gained international recognition with its apple wine, Highland Bliss.

Mashimi Wines is a private company owned by Sefatsa Khabo and Tumelo Mosebetsane which produces the Highland Bliss wines. It was found by Sefatsa in 2015, and he gave the company the name Mashimi after his high school moniker – Mashimi.

“I was inspired to start this by my passion for entrepreneurship which I got while doing my final year at the Lerotholi Polytechnic. This passion was followed by a winery visit to the Western Cape, South Africa, and the knowledge of brewing ‘joala’ from back home at an early age pushed me into venturing into this business,” said Sefatsa. He says the first challenge was finding a laboratory to start his experiment.

The National University of Lesotho (NUL), he continues, came to his rescue and he was at the university’s labs from January to April 2016, experimenting an analysing his recipe. Then there was the licensing issue. “I only got my license two years back, after a long struggle with the Ministry of Trade.”

“Another big challenge was the capital. I needed a lot of funding, which I could not get, but I ended up starting small with the little I had and some help from my parents. I eventually met Tumelo and he invested the little he had to grow our production,” he told Life&Style.

Sefatsa said their success story has received interest from the market in China, The Entrepreneurs Network, through their Hook-up Dinners and training boot camps which have contributed to the little steps towards success. This, he adds, is because of the networking with different people and the guidance and expertise they continuously give entrepreneurs.

At the last NUL Expo, NULSTICE 2020 gave them the opportunity of another international market, the US.

“The gap in the market for our wine is huge, so much that our capacity does not meet the demand. The varieties we produce are the ones we started with, namely; the apple wine, Chenin blanc and Cabernet sauvignon.

“But currently we only have Chenin Blanc because we could not produce our apple wine due to capacity problems and the cabernet sauvignon is still only aging. We do not have any vineyards at the moment; we source our vines from SA.”

“The first attempt at cultivatating our own vineyards was disrupted by the damage caused by livestock and the people stealing the plants in our area at Ha Seshote, Leribe. The challenge here is to put a fence around our land as a means of security,” he said.

They have an upcoming event at the end of this month on the 30th (a wine and art exhibition), so interested people can check their facebook page, Mashimi Wines.

“Our target market is the hospitality establishments, and for the future, we aim at growing our reach to all over Lesotho even in retail, while perusing international markets. We are also looking at growing the tourism industry in Lesotho with the future developments we got planned,” he said.

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