By Pretty Mashinini
I am always fascinated by young people who are doing great things with their lives. I recently stumbled upon a young female entrepreneur who is breaking barriers and doing amazing things. Priding herself in “providing quality wine to the millennial generation of consumers at retail prices,” the brand’s owner works with Cape Wine Kings in Cape Town to produce each bottle. Meet 23-year-old Nomasonto Nkomo, a young female winemaker.
Who is Sonte?
Nomasonto Sonte Nkomo is the founder and CEO of Sonte Le Meileur wine who matriculated in 2013. I’m from a small town in Mafikeng, North West. I studied at the Tshwane University of Technology doing Public Finance and Accounting. I had been working in the Accounting field for over two years when I decided to venture into the wine world and formed Sonte Le Meileur pty Ltd.
What inspired you to venture into winemaking?
I have always had an entrepreneurial mindset but when the odds were stacked up against me, I knew in my heart it was time. The freedom of creative expression is what drives me, my motivations have always been straight forward. I enjoyed my job but I longed to see what I can achieve on my own. I wanted to be able to do new, unrelated and challenging things.
How did you come up with the name “Sonte Le Meileur”?
It’s actually a funny story. I have always been the one who organises beverages when there’s an event back at home so they gave me the name “mma di beves”. When I was still working at an accounting firm, my manager used to call me “Sonte” and she got me a key holder written “Sonte” . After work I went to a friend’s place just to show her what my manager got me, then told her this name would be a big brand one day. As we were sipping on a glass of wine she then told me that I’m the best. I took my phone and googled “the best” in French and “ Le Meileur appeared. I then asked her “would you like to have a glass of our finest Sonte Le Meileur? She was thrilled.
What challenges did you encounter when you started this journey of being a winemaker?
Sonte Le Meileur is a wine and spirits company that I started in 2017. I’ve been discouraged before, wondering if what I’m doing is really worth it. One of the challenges I had to go through as an entrepreneur is money management. As a small business owner, you must be heavily capitalised or be able to pick up extra income to avoid capital drain. Therefore I had to work a job and build the business simultaneously, I went as far as applying for a loan but the bank declined. While this split focus can make it difficult to grow a business, running out of cash makes growing a business impossible. The hours, the work and the constant pressure to perform was getting to me, fatigue hit me hard. Fatigue can lead to rash decisions about the business, including the desire to abandon it completely but I couldn’t just give up. I had to sacrifice 70% of my salary just to get everything up and running and yes it was for a good cause.
How would you describe the Sonte Le Meileur wine?
Our wine is age worthy, meaning it will benefit from further maturation in the bottle. The wine is big, full bodied with an intense aroma and plenty of flavour. It also contains high level of fruits and tannic. It also offers a wonderful blend of wine from your Natural sweet, red wine, white wine and sparkling.
What advice can you give to other aspiring young entrepreneurs?
Commit to your dreams, remember dreams delayed are not dreams denied. Be willing to do things badly until you learn to do them well. Don’t quit, be passionate and understand your passion. Most importantly, know your finances. It is imperative to get customer validation early on, you can have the greatest technology, product , service or whatever but it’s ultimately meaningless if you haven’t verified that there are customers willing to spend money on or around what you do.