There was a time in Ghana when people discussed wine, they would refer to palm wine, a local beverage tapped and extracted straight from the palm tree. In its natural state, palm wine is not alcohol. However, when it ferments, it becomes akpeteshie, a popular local drink and aphrodisiac consumed by Ghanaians nationwide.
Over the past two decades, imported grape wine has become popular in Ghana. In the past 10 years, wine imports from South Africa, France, Spain, USA, Argentina, Australia and many other countries have grown exponentially.
Ghana’s first and only wine café, Sai, opened up in 2015 in the heart of Accra and sells several varietals from both old- and new-world wine-producing countries which it pairs with cheese, meats and tapas dishes. Today, stand-alone wine shops are selling country-specific wines including Spain, South Africa and, more recently, California. This trend is a reflection of how Ghanaian consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about wine and the opportunities that exist.
While the market has been expanding, lecturer and economist Professor Harrison Adjimah experimented with by-products from local cocoa, coffee and cashew pulp in the city of Ho, in Ghana’s Volta region.
In 2018, he successfully produced wine from each of these cash crops. Extracting the juice from the pulp, the wine is fermented in a barrel and ready for consumption after six months. This locally produced wine was recently selected by Sai Wine Ltd which created the Volta brand and it is gaining a foothold in the Ghanaian market.
Three of the four varietals are white wines. The fourth is made with cocoa pulp and hibiscus to make the wine red. Volta has an alcohol volume of 12% and each varietal has its unique character.
CEO of Sai Wine Ltd, Nadia Takyiwaa-Mensah says, “It was exciting for us when we got to learn about the wines made in Ho within the Volta region. Our business has been selling wine from both old- and new-world wine-producing countries for the past five years; wine made in Ghana was a must-have. For each varietal, we created a brand persona which best emulated the taste on the palate. We have Hibiscus Blush – the only red within our range – which is cocoa wine blended with the hibiscus plant.
“Audacity is a cashew wine; it does not taste like cashew but rather has a fermented taste, likening it to palm wine. It has a kick and punch when settled on the palate, hence its name. Dusk til’ Dawn is our cocoa wine, a beautiful medium body white wine which is light on the palate and perfect for the early evening. Dusk til’ Dawn best resembles a Sauvignon Blanc. Finally, we have Lom Nava – which in Voltarian native language, Ewe, means ‘if you love me, come’ – made from coffee which again does not taste like coffee, but is slightly sweet and light on the palate.”
For now, Sai Wine is focusing on local market penetration and will focus on regional and international market export in 2021.