Monday, 28 July 2008

Holy Wine

A nun from rural Mahlabathini in South Africa who makes her own wine from beetroot, Is set to turn it into a commercial venture thanks to the help of the South African health minister who was left speechless when she tasted the wine at an agricultural expo and promised to help her produce the wine commercially.

69-year-old Sister Lydia Ngema from the Order of Saint Benedict joined the Thwasana mission at the age of 14 and started making wine in 1977 as a hobby. But has never actually tasted her wine as alcohol consumption is not permitted by the Order of Saint Benedict.

Sister Ngema said "her wine-making had been controversial because people assumed she drank what she made. I don't touch it. None of us drink here, here; we are not allowed to drink any form of alcohol. I don't taste my own wine."

She added "almost any fruit or vegetable could be used to make wine. I make seven types - from beetroot, plums, carrots, oranges, grapes, grapefruit, and mixed-fruit wine. Virtually anything can be turned into wine."

According to Sister Ngema, it takes five years to make a good wine, but she said big companies had a way of speeding up the process. "Which is what makes my wine so unique - it's made from ordinary fruit and matures on its own."

It is hoped the new business venture will provide jobs for the local community and any profits will go back to helping the local community