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South L.A. meets South Africa


TED, a nationally-known nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, began as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged. Seeing there was a TEDx group in Pasadena, Culver City, and Manhattan Beach, L.A. native Zaneta Smith decided to start one closer to her home “to bridge the gap for all the communities in between,” she said at the outset of the salon the organization hosted on Monday.

Smith then introduced the evening’s host, Black Business Association (BBALA) President and CEO Sarah Harris and special guest, winemaker Tinashe Nyumudoka.

“When I order wine, I usually just ask for something sweet or fruity…that’s my go-to,” Harris admitted. “How do I become more adventurous when it comes to wine?”

Nyumudoka explained that those new to wine should ask the restaurant’s sommelier for suggestions when they go out to dine. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Nyumudoka moved to South Africa, where he worked in restaurants, became a wine sommelier himself at The Test Kitchen restaurant, and ultimately was chosen as a respected wine judge for international competitions.

“You can’t talk about wine without food,” he said, noting that he chooses wines to go with meals, depending on the sauces served with the dish.

Nyumudoka’s label, Kumusha, is a word from his native Shona language, which means ”your roots”, “your home” or “your origin.”

“Kumusha wines are a homage to my belief that the best wines reflect where they grow,” the winemaker says on his website. South Africa has more than 300 years of wine history. “It’s a wine culture coming of age.”

During the salon, Nyumudoka explained that while he does not own his own vineyard yet, the fields he works are in the Western Cape, more than 60 miles away from the ocean. They are located in a valley, which enables the grapes to have a longer ripening period.

“We take advantage of the micro climates there,” he said, adding that he hopes to afford to buy his own piece of land within the next five years.

Salon participants asked the winemaker various questions, including “How’s business?”

“It’s easy to make wine and put it in a bottle, but it is difficult to sell it,” Nyumudoka said. “Don’t go into it for money.”