The appreciation for wine is not a new phenomenon in Kenya – we all have our favorites and although a fully stocked cellar might still be intimidating, many of us feel comfortable in our capacity to at least voice what our palates tend to gravitate towards – medium dry, crisp, sweet etc.
But there is an evolution taking place that is not hard to notice. Not only are our options becoming that much more varied, but the industry itself is growing. Higher level sommelier service for example, as well as an increased number of writers and bloggers breaking down the art of wine to us – because it is an art form – and one that is tough to exhaust.
Wines of South Africa (WOSA) Nairobi Tour is on this month, and at its most basic, offers us an opportunity to discover some of the great possibilities that exist right here in Africa. Hosted by ‘Winenjiru’ – a wine consultancy focused on experience, education and lifestyle, the month is catering to suppliers, writers, restaurants and even casual drinkers – anyone who is keen on trying something unusual or special – something they may not have already considered in the past.
2015 edition of WOSA hosted by Winenjiru
This is second year in a row that Winenjiru is bringing WOSA to Kenya and its Grand Tasting at the end of this month will showcase over 400 South African wines.
The consultancy’s director, Wanjiru Mureithi spoke to me about why she feels that Kenya is ripe for an attraction such as this: “Consumers have more exposure, they travel more and they experience wine and food abroad and want the same experience here. Media plays a big role as well, food and lifestyle channels on TV, movies and series have all contributed as well…. ”
Add to that the increased attractiveness for business investment: “… most wine producing countries may be experiencing saturation in their traditional markets leading them to Africa and Kenya specifically….” And even more so, consumers are continuously seeking a change, given that wine cuts across gender and age, it has become an easy drink to market and consume.
Capital FM’s Wanjira Longauer at WOSA 2015
Wanjiru’s entry into wine was both a great business opportunity as well as a passion project. “Are we not all born wine drinkers? I think some may just be in denial….!” she jokes.
A stint in South Africa led her to explore wine in a deeper context and allowed her to deepen her knowledge of the different global regions and essentially form the foundation of her business. But even with the qualifications, the world of wine is not necessarily an easy one to master “Like any other profession, there’s always more to learn. The first thing is to determine what category of the wine business value chain to play in…” Are you interested in the commercial side of it, service or production…? ”
Durbanville Hills is one of this year’s highlights
All bring their own levels of excitement, but requirements are different. She expounds: “…the global standards for these professions are easier to determine in developed markets or where the industry is large. It’s different in Kenya. We hosted the sommelier challenge for Wines of South Africa earlier this year. Our main pool of competitors was service and commercial staff and we had to be flexible with the entry criteria to get a large pool… ”
But standards are emerging in Kenya she says, and with a greater pool to choose from, it will be easier to distinguish the experts.