The Black Cellar Club (BLACC) is on a mission to unite sommeliers, winemakers and anyone in the hospitality industry committed to empowerment.
Co-founder of BLACC Aubrey Ngcuncama, says that even a cursory evaluation of the local wine industry proves that there are many talented, passionate black people who love working with wine and sharing it with others. “I had given it some thought and soon realised that there was a wonderful community of sommeliers and hospitality people who just happened to be black.”
He adds: “And when I approached Ian Manley (a PR guru) to chat about my idea he got excited because he had also recently had the same conversation.” This was how BLACC was born and then officially launched on 12 September 2016.
What is BLACC
Ngcuncama describes BLACC as a club rather than an organisation because he says “a club can have various meanings.”
They are a group of sommeliers, winemakers and are passionate about local wineries. Membership is voluntary and there are regular events that BLACC members are invited to, usually at wine farms.
“It’s all about celebrating the community (of people in the wine industry) and anyone is welcome to join us; we truly believe SA makes the best wine in the world and it must be celebrated.”
He’s also all too aware that the wine industry has historically been a domain that black people were excluded from and that even in a democratic dispensation there are many people who still believe that the wine industry is an “all white” industry.
It definitely isn’t and groups such as BLACC want to build on the great strides that has been made. Members get together on what they have coined #BLACCMonday’s and although it’s a time and space for them to socialise it’s also an opportunity to tackle some of the challenges they face in the industry.
“We’ve had discussions and in the near future we hope to launch a bursary scheme,” says Ngcuncama.
In November, BLACC, powered by Vula Afrika will host a very special wine festival in Langa where they want to put all their members talents to good use in a community where fine wines might not be top of mind.
The event aims to display 14 of the best wineries in Cape Town and SA and the sommeliers will be on hand to share their wine knowledge with anyone keen to taste the fruit of the vines.
Ngcuncama adds that this is not going to be an even in a township where visitors are jettisoned in and locals stand on the sidelines and watch. They want to get Langa residents excited about wine so that they can get a taste for what SA is producing.