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Top Billing meets inspirational wine maker Joseph Dhafana
Top Billing meets Sommelier Joseph Dhafana and hears his amazing story
The winelands town of Riebeek Kasteel is rich with characters and creatives but even among this fascinating group – one man stands out. Joseph Dhafana’s journey from gardener to barman, waiter, sommelier and now wine maker is the stuff that epic films are made of.
The Swartland wine and olive growing town of Riebeek Kasteel was another world from the hardships which Joseph and his wife left, ten years ago. Granted asylum in South Africa, they made it count.
His wife Amelia Chakamba Dhafana found a job as a receptionist and it was while working in the Royal Hotel, the oldest licensed hotel in The Western Cape, that Joseph discovered his passion for wine.
He was raised by a maize farmer in Chirumanzu, so during his fourth year in the valley helping in his first harvest was a return to his roots.
Working from a gardener and dish washer to a sommelier, his learnt enough to source grapes and establish his own wine and gin label - Mosi.
With support from fellow winemakers and mentors like Eben Sadie Chris Mullineux, Joseph has established himself as a real force in the industry.
He has gone on to compete in the World Winetasting Championships and is the head sommelier at the renowned La Colombe restaurant, but never forgets where he began and still holds Riebeek Kasteel close to his heart. No doubt largely due to the amazing lifestyle and appreciation for local produce, as is evident in the many festivals held there, including the Mediterranean Festival, another for olives, and a third for Shiraz.
He also still returns to Easterhof, the informal area that served as home to the Dhafanas in the first two years they spent in their adoptive town.
With his humble character, hardworking ethic and amazing natural affinity for wine, Joseph is an inspiration to the whole industry, and you can look out for a documentary on the Dhafana’s journey, to be launched in New York, this year.
Or to get a taste of it, head to Riebeek Kasteel and try the wines for yourself!