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Wine and Rum: Angolan producers thrive domestically and eye up the global market

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With a soil and climate that allow two harvests a year, Angola’s Vale do Bero vineyard in the rich agricultural province of Namibe, is an example of how growers are meeting demand on the domestic market.

Vale do Bero has 25 hectares of land – producing 80,000 bottles a year. That’s a lot of corkscrewing!

Owner Paulo Múrias was a doctor who started viniculture as a hobby while he tried cultivating olives – before wine production came calling.

“As the olive trees were not appearing, I went to the second culture that I identified from the beginning, which was the culture of the vines, with the idea of trying to produce wine here. And this plan was, shall we say, a success right from the start,” rejoices Múrias.

The two harvests a year were a helpful factor, Múrias admits. Most countries like France, Italy and Spain only get one harvest in the calendar year.

“It was an advantage, a very big advantage in relation to most countries because most countries only have one annual production.”

And what kind of vines did he plant? Múrias kept things close to the Angolan pallet.

“I decided to choose Portuguese grapes for the simple reason that the Angolan population is used to the taste of Portuguese wine and that's why I decided, in terms of vine strains, to import them from Portugal.”

Múrias continues: “The grapes absorb the entire environment, the terroir that involves this work. So, at present, I think that the Vale do Bero is, in fact, so to speak, the taste of Angolan wine.”

Caxaramba: A rum distillery on the rise

Along with Namibe’s wine producers, a common objective with rum distiller Caxaramba, in Benguela province, is to export globally. Owner Ricardo Guerra comes from a family with a long tradition of winemaking in Portugal. He’s also fifth-generation Angolan.

“Right now, since 2010, since we began, this is this dream, this experience. We start dealing with Oak barrels of French and American oak,” says Guerra.

“We have here about 50,000 litres of rum and to make these 50,000 litres we must ferment almost 500,000 litres. So because the process of distillation it’s very, very, very, very small.”

Apart from the barrels, Caxaramba gets most of its supplies from companies in Angola, avoiding the dependency on imports.

“Almost 95% of our products are bought in Angola already. That is a huge victory for us.”

Now Guerra wants to dramatically expand production and bring Angolan rum to the world.

“In the next 10 years, I would like instead of being 50,000 litres a year ageing, I want to be 500,000 litres a year ageing. That's a goal that we have. I think it's possible. Then we want to of course internationalise our brand. We want to show our brand to the world because we believe we have a special product.”

And what makes Caxaramba rum so special?

“You can feel it, all the complexity that this has. It’s not so strong. You cannot feel the alcohol and you are feeling the structure, the flavour of the wood. That's why it's unique, that's why it's special and that's why I put all my passion here inside of these barrels. So…cheers!”

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