Meet Kwanele Nyawo, CEO and Co-Founder of Khulu Wines

According to Darielle Robertson, organiser of this year’s Johannesburg Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, this year’s event is especially exciting with several producers being black-owned enterprises.

The Johannesburg Cap Classique & Champagne Festival takes place on March 25 & 26 at the Inanda Polo Club from 11h00 to 16h00.

“There will be over 50 different bubblies for festivalgoers to taste,” says Robertson, “including black-owned bubbly brands such as Amari, Ayepyep, House of Azari and Khulu all of which are making Cap Classiques that are up there with the best of them and just waiting to be tasted and enjoyed.”

Ahead of the festival, we spoke to Kwanele Nyawo, CEO and Co-Founder of Khulu Wines and asked her how it all began and what bubbly lovers can expect from her Cap Classique.

Can you tell us about the people behind Khulu Wines.

Khulu was founded by me, Kwanele Nyawo and my business partner Niël van Staden. I spent 13½ years working for one of South Africa’s biggest insurance companies before embarking on an entrepreneurship journey. I am also a former radio talk show host and serve on the executive committees of two NGOs. Niël worked at a leading global investment bank in London for 12 years across a variety of roles gaining extensive experience in investment services, global markets and asset management. After returning to South Africa, he founded several tech companies and serves on a number of boards.

How did you meet?

Niël and I met on a bizarre Zoom call while I was working on an event for a client. We met at the said event a few weeks later and immediately hit it off. We started Mzansi Craft Wine together and Khulu shortly thereafter.

Where are you based?

I split my time between Johannesburg and Paarl. I generally spend one week a month in Paarl because that is where our operations are based.

Tell us about the name ‘Khulu’

Khulu means ‘great’ or ‘extravagant’ in isiZulu. Niël and I wanted to create a luxury wine brand those words would apply to, as we both love the good things in life.

Who is your winemaker?

We have a number of wine makers across the Cape winelands who make wines for us based on our specific requirements. We are very involved in the winemaking process although we are not winemakers ourselves.

Can you tell us about your range?

We currently have three red wines and a Cap Classique. Our red wine range consists of a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Shiraz and a Cabernet blend and our bubbly is called Izigidi which means ‘millions’.

Can you tell us a bit about Izigidi which you will be showcasing at the festival? Bubbly lovers can expect a beautiful Blanc de Blanc Cap Classique made from 100% chardonnay grapes. It is complex and indulgent with secondary aromas of orange blossom and lemon zest on the nose.

What are the best foods to pair with Izigidi?

Definitely seafood, salads and cheese. I’m a cheese lover, so cheese always makes my list of pairings.

Where do you see Khulu in five years’ time?

I see Khulu as an established wine brand associated with quality and luxury. We would love for our Cap Classique to be one of the best rated bubblies in South Africa.

Anything else you would like to add or let bubbly fans know about Khulu Wines?

Yes, make sure you stop by our stand at the festival and have a few sips of our bubbly. I promise it will be well worth it!

Other bubbly producers at the festival include Black Elephant Vintners, Bon Courage, Boschendal, Champagne Deutz, Graham Beck, Guy Charbaut’s Carrol Boyes Champagne Kleine Zalze, Krone, L’Ormarins, Paul Renè, Steenberg and Villiera as well as several brands courtesy of WCellar including WCC Brut Cap Classique and Nectar Royale Cap Classique, both from Villiera, Signature Cap Classique and Comtesse Alexia Brut Champagne and Comtesse Alexia Rosé Brut.

The Johannesburg Cap Classique & Champagne Festival will be held at the Inanda Polo Club in Sandton on Saturday, March 25 and Sunday, March 26 from 11h00 to 16h00. Tickets cost R450pp and include entry to the venue, a souvenir branded glass and 10 tasting coupons.

More bubbly will be available to purchase at the event. Book at

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