Merecia Smith launches SA's first black-owned wine analysis lab

Merecia Smith launches SA's first black-owned wine analysis laboratory. Picture: Supplied

Merecia Smith launches SA's first black-owned wine analysis laboratory. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 20, 2020


One of the oldest wine farms in South Africa, the Spier Wine Farm has assisted former employee Merecia Smith in launching the country’s first black-owned wine analysis laboratory.

In a statement, Smith joined the farm in 1998 as a general worker and first started working in the wine analysis laboratory four years later. 

They mention that her laboratory plays a crucial role in the winemaking process and that through the nearly twenty tests she can do on wine samples, she is able to provide winemakers with vital scientific information that enables them to make informed decisions on whether they should make adjustments to the wine. 

They add that the test results will help winemakers decide whether they should add more sulphur or whether the wine needs more filtration to achieve greater clarity, and that tests of sugar, pH and total acidity on grapes also help winemakers figure out when vineyards are ready for harvest. 

Smith said she really enjoys doing analysis, that it is satisfying knowing that she is helping to make good wine even better. She adds that the winemakers trust them – they know they can sleep safely because the analysis is in good hands. 

Asked about the key qualities to ensure a high-performing lab, Smith said it is to be accurate, reliable, trustworthy and honest. 

“Having this external evaluation of the quality of our services is important – it gives us credibility and shows that we are doing a good job. Initially, I found the idea of leaving full-time employment to launch my own business rather intimidating. But I felt reassured by the support Spier was willing to offer me to help get my business off the ground, ” she said. 

Spier CEO, Andrew Milne said at Spier, doing good is what drives them as a business.

“The support we’ve shown Merecia – and the other former employees who have also launched their own businesses – is a manifestation of this purpose. By empowering entrepreneurs, we are catalysing growth and positive change that will ripple far beyond our own business,” said Milne. 

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