Growing up in a dry household in the KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’s far eastern, subtropical province, Mphumeleli Ndlangisa (Mphumi for short, pronounced em-POOM-ee) didn’t have much exposure to wine. He did, however, cultivate a deep love for nature as a child exploring the lush, rural landscape around South Africa’s tallest peak, the Drakensberg Mountains.
Fortunately, Mphumi was introduced to wine while studying economics and statistics at university. Although the seed was planted, his passion for wine did not fully bloom until well-after graduating. So, his first career was in… investment banking. He’s a very intelligent guy, after all, but the culture of that industry didn’t keep him interested for long.
After some years of working in finance, his passion for wine began to take over. In 2013, he worked with two different winemakers to make a single barrel of wine with each: one of Pinot Noir, the other Chenin Blanc. The wines were so good, the winemakers pushed him to get labels on the bottles and fully commit to winemaking for a living. Just a year later, Mphumi launched Magna Carta Wines and today these two varietals are the benchmarks of his varied and award-winning production.
Today, Mphumi and his wife, Nomfundi live in the peaceful countryside of Northern Swartland. Close to Piketberg, they have built a winemaking and aging facility surrounded by nothing else but wheat fields and vineyards. 2023 was their first vintage at this new property, making just one wine as a test, Viognier. Their plans are to move all production here within a vintage or two. To Mphumi, farming is generational, and he is working hard to build and leave a legacy to his children.
Just a couple of miles from his home, Mphumi is working to lease and convert a beautiful vineyard to entirely organic viticulture. This is a critical step for Mphumi’s long-term goal of working with entirely local fruit sources. One must remember though South Africa is still a developing nation and asking any farm owner to lower yield (and income), even if they’ll almost certainly make it back in a few years, is about as hard of an ask as you can make.
Having toured this vineyard with Mphumi (while drinking a bottle of his delicious Pinot Noir), it was clear to see the great potential and firmly believe he’ll reach his goals. Until then, he is sourcing fruit from the same organic vineyards worked with since day one, and his wines continue to be produced naturally, passionately, and most importantly, soulfully.
Why ‘Magna Carta Wine’?
Written in the 13th century, the Magna Carta was the first legal document that ever came into existence. It was chiefly responsible for freeing slaves (Serfs) who were stuck in the Feudal system from an oppressive monarchy. The Magna Carta allowed Serfs to have rights, which came with freedom. As a native African, Mphumi holds the core tenets of the Magna Carta in the highest regard. Naming his winery after it is an homage, but also offers a north star for his viticulture and winemaking philosophies. The main goal of Magna Carta wines is to allow the grapes to be free and to show their origin and inherent character. By working with chemical-free vineyards and a clean, but minimal-interventionist winemaking approach, his wines are as free and distinctive as they come.
Grapes Produced: Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Noir, Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Syrah, Ruby Cabernet
Farming Method: Organic
Yeast Type: Native
Wine Style: Natural