It was beyond Joseph T Dhafana’s wildest dreams that he would one day be a successful sommelier and wine producer in Cape Town.
Dhafana, 35, is the proud owner of Mosi Wines which is the culmination of hard work and some luck thrown in for good measure.
Dhafana says: “I grew up in the rural area of Zimbabwe, a village comparable to Qunu in the Eastern Cape and I would walk to to school every day. My dad was a maize and ground-nuts farmer and lager was all that I had ever tasted in Zimbabwe. I was never exposed to wine.”
In December 2009, Dhafana and his wife entered South Africa illegally and sought asylum for six months. They found refuge at a Methodist Church.
A cousin spotted him on TV as controversy erupted with regards to the shelter and through some searching was able to contact with Dhafana and his wife. His cousin was living in Riebeek Kasteel in the Western Cape and successfully ensured that Dhafana and his wife were able to travel there and make the town their home away from home.
He soon found a job at a restaurant, Bar Bar Black Sheep Restaurant in Wellington and one day when the dishwasher failed to arrive for work, Dhafana was thrust into the middle of the busy kitchen and faced an avalanche of dirty dishes.
He recalls: “The owner said to me he wants to teach me to cook, but I said no because I could see how he shouted at the kitchen staff.”
Dhafana ended up training as the barman at the front of house and not long after his love affair with the flavour notes of wine began. He moved to Cape Town and trained as a sommelier and is working at La Colombe, in Constantia. La Colombe is a modern French restaurant where wine is an integral part of every meal.
Dhafana never set out to buy a ton of grapes and create his own Shiraz, but that is what happened to him a few years ago. It was trial and error, but this year Dhafana believes he’s perfected it and has bottled and is now selling his 2015 Shiraz.
“There are 1800 bottles,” he says. “It has a white pepper nose and then you get medium red fruit flavour note, cherries and that slight spiciness from the barrel. But it’s an elegant mouth feel and soft and subtle.”
While he markets this shiraz, Dhafana has bought another batch of grapes he hopes to craft into a Shiraz and Merlot.
“I can honestly say that wine found me, and that it was never part of any of my plans,” he says. “My motto has always been: ‘If you spent the whole day not learning anything new then it’s a day wasted’. And every day I learn something new about wine.”
* To arrange a delivery from Mosi Wine or to contact Dhafana, email: [email protected]