Many find themselves on the fence when deciding whether to pursue passion over money. Winemaker Mphumeleli ‘Mphumi’ Ndlangisa’s story is one that clearly demonstrates what his stance is. For Ndlangisa (27), passion is a key driver behind his current success. Ndlangisa is a qualified mathematical statistician (undergraduate completed at the University of Cape Town and postgraduate at Stellenbosch University) who previously worked as an investment banker until his passion came knocking much more strongly.
“I grew up mostly in rural Estcourt and Bergville where farming was the most dominant trade in the area. I am the first child in my family of five to go to university and I succeeded in earning a prestigious first job as an investment banker. Through much dissatisfaction within an investment bank, I decided to build something for myself that represented my roots and my first love: farming,” he says. Ndlangisa embarked on a journey which saw him leaving a high-paying job to start producing wine in a friend’s garage in Stellenbosch.
He says about following passion over money: “I’d stick to passion. However, it must be noted that having money in a capitalist world is convenient, but the conundrum would then be, what to buy in a world where all that is produced is without passion? He is adamant that “in order to make money, you have to start with passion.”
After fast becoming one of South Africa’s youngest self-taught winemakers, Ndlangisa’s products now sell in London, Tokyo, Zambia, Lesotho, Kenya and Nigeria. Another incredible achievement is the fact that his wines have been invited for participation in the 2017 John Platter awards, which is quite an honour.
A major goal for Ndlangisa is working towards “expanding Magna Carta’s natural wine philosophy into the African continent, through my wine education initiative (Magna Carta Wine Day) and through exporting natural wines into the rest of Africa. Look out for a Magna Carta pop-up restaurant too in Jo’burg and Cape Town,” he says.
— Simphiwe Rens