Glass of beet wine? Local winemaker ditches grapes for veg

01 November 2017 - 11:19 By Shelley Seid
Mayine Khumalo with her beetroot wine.
Mayine Khumalo with her beetroot wine.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Mayine Khumalo likes a glass of fine wine of an evening; a glass of beetroot wine perhaps, or pumpkin wine, a champagne-coloured libation she says is fast becoming her favourite.

Khumalo, 39, who started out as an electrician in Durban, is now a purveyor of fruit and vegetable wines from her smallholding on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast - fermentations of cucumber, carrot, pumpkin or beetroot, all with a kick, and all, she says, good for your health.

She has always had a strong urge to be creative and entrepreneurial: "Being an electrician was not my dream, it was my mother's dream."

Her mother worked in the marketing department of Durban's eThekwini Municipality and admired the female electricians making their mark in a man's world.

"I wanted to please my mom," says Khumalo, who lasted five years in the job. On the side she designed and made clothes. When she moved to the south coast she began "living off the earth".

"I wanted to go old-style and I developed a love for planting vegetables. It was thanks to people who work for Siyavuna [an NPO that trains people in the Ugu district to grow organic fruit and vegetables]." Khumalo said Siyavuna taught her everything she knows about farming. "Before I met them I couldn't keep a pot plant. My garden is now artistic and productive."

But then everyone got into organic farming. Khumalo, a woman who likes to stand out from the crowd, had to find a unique selling point for her organic produce.

She decided to invent her own umqombothi (traditional sorghum beer) using vegetables. Lots of research, much trial and error and many months later, she perfected her recipe for a vibrant beetroot wine which, she says, is not only tasty but good for libido, blood circulation and anaemia.

After that she developed cucumber wine, carrot wine and pumpkin wine - and is now ready to go national. At the end of November she will sell her wines at the weekly Maboneng market in Johannesburg and is in talks with hotels in KwaZulu-Natal to stock the products.

"It's been a hobby. I'm ready for it to become a business." And she believes it will fly off the shelves. "It's really popular around my area, especially the beetroot. People love the taste, then they find out it's good for libido and they love it even more."


Beetroot is on trend and everyone's hip new superfood for a range of reasons:

1. It is low in calories and almost fat-free.

2. The pigment in beetroot is an antioxidant.

3. It's a good source of fibre.

4. It's rich in vitamin C, iron, potassium and manganese.

5. And, as for the libido claims, beetroot is rich in nitrate, which converts to nitric oxide (just like Viagra) and widens the blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow to the penis.

This article was originally published in The Times