By Natasha Chamba
A Zimbabwean winemaker, Joseph Dhafana, recently launched his gin brand — Mosi WaMambo Gin — in London, England.
Dhafana’s tale comes from humble beginnings after he, together with his wife, left Chirumhanzu, Zimbabwe for Cape Town, South Africa in 2009 to seek a better life.
Despite passing his Advanced Level with flying colours, the only job he could get was being a gardener at the famous Bar Bar Black Sheep restaurant in Riebeek Kasteel.
Knowing he was educated, he enrolled for a sommelier course in Cape Town. When he completed his course, his employer promoted him and made him a barman at the restaurant. As he interacted closely with alcoholic beverages, he discovered his talents of making and tasting wine.
He came up with his own wine brand that is now known as Mosi Wines and eventually left his employer to focus on his wines. La Colombe, one of South Africa’s most iconic and internationally acclaimed fine dining establishments, took note of his talent and made him their head sommelier (wine waiter), a post he still holds.
So good is his wine that he, last year, broke the wine auction record in South Africa after he auctioned a box of six Mosi Wines for R16 000.
Challenging himself further, Dhafana tried his hand at making gin (distilled alcoholic drink) and recently launched what he calls the Mosi WaMambo Gin at one of the best nightclubs in London.
At the same event, he also showcased his famous Mosi Wines.
“I got an invite from Buffalo Foundation owned by good friends of mine to showcase my wines at 67 Pall Mall in London. 67 Pall Mall is the best posh wine club in London, neighbour to the home of the Queen’s mother,” he said.
“We had over 100 attendees. Mosi Wines was greatly received and I had an opportunity to launch my Mosi WaMambo Gin on the same night.”
He said the gin is inspired by his Zimbabwean roots and consists of ingredients which were foraged in Chirumhanzu.
“It has zumbani (Lipia Javanica), gavi remususu (silver leaf tree bark) muchokochiana (sedzchun), rooibos, ginger and Italian juniper berries. I would recommend that people have it neat on the rocks or with a dash of soda water, soda not tonic,” he said.
“London people are lovely. I met a few Zimbabweans who recognised their flag which was on my shirt,” he said.
Asked where locals could sample his products, Dhafana said for now, his wines and gin are only available in Cape Town at various liquor stores there. He, however, said he was making plans to have the products distributed locally. Chronicle.