A Journey of Passion, Community, Memory, and Association
By Vanessa Charlot
Tinashe Nyamudoka, a young and ambitious entrepreneur from Zimbabwe, has made waves in the wine industry with this next chapter in his career, Kumusha Wines. This new venture has gained significant attention for Tinashe’s unique wine-making approach and his focus on sustainability.
In the fall of 2022, Nyamudoka visited the U.S. for the first time since the breakout success of his wine. His first stop was Minnesota in honor of George Floyd, whose murder brought a major spotlight to Black economic empowerment in the U.S. As a result, an importer reached out to him with a viable opportunity to bring a Black South African-based wine brand to the U.S.
Nyamudoka demonstrates a passion that goes beyond the race of the winemaker, to a product that elicits emotion and an experience. He says, “Kumusha is like packing the culture [into a bottle].”
The inspiration for the name Kumusha, which translates to “home” in Shona, one of the most widely spoken languages spoken in Zimbabwe, was derived from Nyamudoka’s fond appreciation for the book Liquid Memory by award-winning filmmaker and former sommelier, Jonathan Nossiter.
“I vividly remember one of the chapters where he was discussing wine of origin… we know [wine of origin] in the sense of where the wine is coming from, but what if you’ve never been there? You’ve never been to Mosel. You’ve never been to Vouvray,” says Nyamudoka. “How do you even conceptualize it? Why can’t wine of origin be where the wine takes you? And this wine is always taking me home, so that’s my wine of origin.”
Kumusha aims to create premium-quality wines that are both affordable and accessible to a wider audience. Nyamudoka’s passion for wine and desire to bring a new taste to the market led him to launch this new venture. He saw a gap in the market for high-quality wines at a reasonable price, and he fills that gap with Kumusha Wines.
The wines have received positive reviews from both consumers and industry experts. Kumusha Wines currently produces a range of red and white wines, all of which are from locally grown grapes, hand-crafted to ensure the highest quality with a sense of place.
The Life of Tinashe Nyamudoka
Prior to embarking on the journey of Kumusha Wines, Nyamudoka had a unique journey of his own. Starting his career in a grocery store in Zimbabwe, Nyamudoka climbed his way up to the position of manager just before a major economic crisis in 2008. The economic challenges resulted in him moving to Cape Town, South Africa in pursuit of more opportunities.
He found work polishing cutlery at the fine dining restaurant, The Roundhouse. As a waiter without prior experience with wine, Nyamudoka learned from the beverage director, eventually earning himself a job as a wine steward at Nobu. From there, he worked at the Oyster Box hotel in Durban, before returning to Cape Town to become the head sommelier at The Test Kitchen.
With crowdfunding assistance from Master of Wine, Jancis Robinson, Nyamudoka teamed up with three other sommeliers who followed a similar journey and birthed the first wine-tasting team from Zimbabwe – Team Zim. Alongside Joseph Dhafana, Marlvin Gwese, and Pardon Taguzu, these gentlemen competed in the 2017 and 2018 World Blind Wine Tasting Championships, their first time setting foot outside the African continent. In 2017, they placed second to last. But in 2018, they placed 14th, beating some established first-world teams like Team USA and Team UK. The team is featured in the award-winning film Blind Ambition.
Nyamudoka’s journey in the wine industry is a remarkable story of passion, persistence, and hard work. He is working to positively impact the environment and the local community and is always looking for new ways to innovate and improve his products. Nyamudoka is ready to become a noteworthy player in the wine industry. With his continued dedication and entrepreneurial spirit, we can expect more from Nyamudoka and Kumusha Wines in the future.