The story of Joseph Dhafana – From refugee to expert wine sommelier

by | Jun 26, 2018 | Blog, Lifestyle, News

He arrived as a refugee in South Africa nine years ago and today is an expert wine sommelier, has made his own wine, and has an exciting future in the wine industry ahead of him.



In February 2009 Joseph Dhafana and his wife fled Zimbabwe to seek a better life in South Africa. Joseph soon found a job as a gardener at the famous Bar Bar Black Sheep restaurant in Riebeek Kasteel, and was quickly promoted to barman, and on his 29th birthday he tasted his first glass of wine, a Pieter Cruythoff Methodé Cap Classique.

Joesph recalls that with his mind in the vineyards, he pondered how someone could convert grapes to such a wonderful liquid. The wine bug followed him from that day.

In 2013 Joseph enrolled at the Cape Wine Academy. He eventually left Riebeek Kasteel to further pursue his new-found passion in Cape Town, and in 2014 got his first opportunity to produce his own wine at Antebellum Wines based at Meerhof Cellars.

His meteoric rise to one of the most recognizable young figures in the wine industry is nothing short of remarkable. Currently head sommelier at La Colombe, Joseph is also a board member of the Black Cellar Club (BLACC) and captain of Team Zimbabwe which competed at the World Blind Wine Tasting Championships in Burgundy in 2017.

The Art of Wine

In August, Joseph will be taking part in a unique collaboration with a maverick boutique winemaker and several artists participating in a bespoke art event called “Solo Studios – Intimate Art Encounters” which is taking place in the Riebeek Valley from the 9th to the 12th of August 2018.

Solo Studios is an annual event that has fast made a name for itself amongst art lovers and has firmly established itself on the events calendar – providing a rare opportunity to visit artists in their studios to view and purchase their art straight off the easel.

Klaus Piprek, organiser behind Solo Studio’s explains that The Art of Wine sees sommelier Joseph Dhafana and winemaker Stompie Meyer collaborating to hold talks and host tastings over the course of the Solo Studios weekend. Limited edition box sets of curated wines will be available to purchase, with the labels having been specially designed by the Solo Studios artists. In addition to this, Joseph will auction off a case of his highly select wines – from his maiden vintages to his current wines.

“Half of the proceeds of this auction will go towards charity organisations supporting education. I was fortunate to be given some opportunities in South Africa, but would not have achieved what I have had it not been for my solid education I obtained in Zimbabwe. I’d like to give back to the community, and hopefully in a small way I can contribute towards offering someone else some opportunities through education,” says Joseph.

Tickets for the Solo Studios event come in a variety of options. The “Premier Weekend Pass”, a regular “Weekend Pass”, and “Day Passes” for the Saturday or Sunday respectively. An additional cover charge will be applicable at select entertainment venues.

The 2018 event takes place over an extended long weekend, Thursday 9 August being Women’s Day. Potential visitors are therefore encouraged to book well in advance to avoid disappointment. Accommodation would also need to be secured well in advance for the long weekend. visit

For more information or to purchase tickets visit and follow the link to Webtickets. A limited number of tickets are available and pre-booking is essential. For more information on Solo Studios contact Klaus Piprek on 074 209 6838, or email  

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