Meet Joseph T Dhafana – Refugee turned winemaker and proud owner of @mosi_wines in South Africa. Joseph, a 35 year old native of Zimbabwe, entered South Africa illegally with his wife in December 2009. With some help from family and a bit of luck, he made his way the Western Cape where took a job as a bartender. Prior to the job, Joseph had no exposure to wine but it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with it. After some time in Western Cape he moved to Cape Town to pursue his passion for wine. He studied at Cape Wine Academy, completed WSET L3, took a role as Sommelier at a local restaurant and eventually created his own wine label.
Mosi Wines is a culmination of hard work and grit. The name is short for Mosi oa-tunya, the village in Zimbabwe where Joseph grew up. His current release includes 2015 Flavian Syrah which is a tribute to his father who passed away in 2004.
Q: Joseph, what prompted you to move from Zimbabwe to South Africa?
A: I left Zimbabwe in 2009 when the economy was at its worse. There was no food in the shops, no jobs, and no cash. I felt like even the air could be used up too. I then packed my bags and headed to South Africa.
Q: Can you please tell us a bit about your winemaking philosophy?
A: For my reds, I prefer carbonic maceration as it always gives me that stocky white pepper flavor which I like in my Syrah. For my whites, I prefer whole bunch press as it adds some structure and texture to the wine. I also prefer to use wild yeast, as it is very natural. I learned about the use of wild yeast from both Eden Sadie and Chris Mullineux.
Q: What would you describe as your biggest challenge as winemaker of Mosi Wines?
A: The biggest challenge is buying grapes. Because of the drought, its getting difficult to source grapes in my preferred areas. The prices of grapes rose from R7000 per ton in 2014 to R13000 in 2018 – that’s really a big jump. That is why even wine prices are rising gradually. I hope people will accept it as it is not one personal decision. My wish is to make wine available and accessible to many.
Q: What can we expect from future Mosi vintages? Will you continue to work primarily with Chenin and Syrah/Merlot?
A: Mosi will keep making wine… hopefully we will get some more rain in Western Cape here in South Africa. It is difficult to sell wine for sure especially to us small or boutique wine producers. I started with Syrah and Chenin of course but now Merlot joined the fray last year, now thinking of making a Bordeaux style blend. So expect to sip some 2017 Merlot end of this year.
Know your winemaker, know your wine