“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela’s legacy is intertwined with the notion of freedom and equality, which doesn’t seem especially connected to wine at first glance. But the South African wine industry’s recent and continuing dramatic revival is analogous to the hope and freedom Mandela helped usher into South Africa since his release from prison in 1990. It is self-indulgent but insightful to view Mandela’s contribution to South Africa and beyond through a vinous lens.
For starters, Mandela’s release and the end of apartheid precipitated an opportunity for South Africa to export products to economies like Great Britain and the United States. In a business model that would have been impossible twenty years ago, Mandela’s daughter and granddaughter are now making a line of “fair-trade” African wines available in the U.S. and other global markets. Members of Mandela's family told The Wall Street Journal this year that while he was longer drinking wine for health reasons, his favorite wines were "South African sweet wines, such as Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance," which recently reclaimed its place among the world’s greatest, after nearly a century of dormancy.