Friday 1 March 2024

The Journey of Koni: From village to vineyard

By Nonkululeko Britton

When Koni Moliehe left Bethel High School (in a small town called Ventersdorp) in 1989, she had no clue what career she?d choose. All she knew was that she had an incredible soprano singing voice, excellent leadership skills (she started and conducted the school choir), as well as an unwavering curiosity.

A meandering path of dashed dreams, fate and favour, as well as a daring spirit, lead her to Cape Town. Here, she would soon make friendships that would see her through what she calls some of her ?darkest days? ? while studying, looking for work and building a business under steep circumstances.

With her unwavering curiosity and outstanding leadership skills, she found herself climbing corporate ladders and reaching soaring heights as a Learning and Development Executive at a financial institution. The success did not last exceptionally long, as she reached a point where she would ask the quintessential existential question: ?Is this all there is to this life??

The answer she found was, ?No?. Knowing what she knew about herself, in 2015, she set off on another adventure ? to uncover the art of winemaking. She studied courses to be a Sommelier while asking questions to her mentors and getting her hands dirty. The best advice she says she got was to collaborate with another wine farm to produce her wines while building her brand.

In 2017 and 2018, she quite literally ?went for broke? ? emptied her savings and selling her vehicles – to grow the brand that is now known as Koni Wines. She remembers how, even though she ?lost everything? in those years to make her business work, she never said ?No? to an opportunity to showcase her wines at expos. She reflects on how she would get into a taxi, put on a brave face and stand tall at showcases. ?No one could tell I was falling apart and going through a hard time,? she recalls.

?I survived those years with tears and a strong will to not give up. I knew that somewhere, there would be a light at the end,? she adds.

In 2019, she started rethinking her brand?s look and feel. Putting together a daring mosaic of things that she believes in ? her African heritage, storytelling and the outstanding Ankara cloth ? she came up with an exquisite range of designs for her bottle packaging. On the back of the bottles is a saying she is incredibly proud of: ?Fighting like a lioness to bring more diversity to the South African wine industry. Being a role model and taking the risk to succeed. This is Koni Wines.?

COVID-19 aside, she is ready to take over the world with her brand ? already in talks with potential international customers and partners to extend her footprint. Koni Wines is also a newly announced recipient of the coveted Lux Life Magazine (UK) Food & Drink 2020 award for ?Most Resilient Winery ? Western Cape?.

Watch out world, the lioness of the wine industry is coming!


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