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Cheers! Sisters toast success

09 September 2013 - 02:42 By POPPY LOUW
Vivian Kleynhans, the co-founder of Seven Sisters, says hard work is paying off for her and her siblings as their wines make a splash in the US and China
Vivian Kleynhans, the co-founder of Seven Sisters, says hard work is paying off for her and her siblings as their wines make a splash in the US and China
Image: ALON SKUY

Seven Sisters is more than just about fine wine. It's about a strong bond between seven sisters determined to turn their lives around.

The Brutus sisters from Paternoster - a small West Coast fishing village - are the driving force behind one of South Africa's popular black-owned wine brands.

Fourth-born sister and brand creator, Vivian Kleynhans, said she had always dreamt of giving her family a better life.

"Being able to fill up the grocery cupboard, or simply buy a dress for an event is something I have always wanted to give my family."

Kleynhans approached her sisters Yolanda, Odelia, Twena, Dawn, June and Carol with the idea to start their own wine brand in 2004.

She said: "I never liked wine as it was part of the past evils of our communities, but learning about it opened me up to the prospect of appreciating it."

After much research and planning, the sisters - whose personalities are represented in each bottle of wine - embarked on their entrepreneurial journey in 2005.

The Seven Sisters brand was launched in 54 Walmart stores in the US last year and secured a distribution deal earlier this year.

Their wines are now available at 300 Walmart stores in China and the US. The deal is part of the Walmart Supplier Development Fund's Developing Wine Brand Programme, which provides local brands with export opportunities to Walmart's international markets.

Massmart's supplier development manager Moshisi Lehlongwane said the programme supports and develops 19 brands currently available at Makro and select Game stores across South Africa.

Said Lehlongwane: "The initiative introduces wine owners into business, with support ranging from developing their brands to marketing."

The 19 brands have already sold 16800 bottles of wine locally, with five taking part in the Soweto Wine Festival at the weekend.

Thembi and Co Wines' Thembi Tobie said many people were surprised to learn of the opportunities for black people in the industry.

"I want to teach black people that they can enjoy wine. The time is now, there is space in the industry and we should take up such opportunities," Tobie said.

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