Rwandan Entrepreneur Woos Drinkers With Beetroot Wine

October 25, 2018 Updated: October 25, 2018

Rwandans enjoy eating beetroot, but entrepreneur Assumpta Uwamariya has found a novel use for the vegetable: turning it into a red wine that has proven popular with customers in several African countries and even as far away as Germany.

Unable to find a job after graduating from university, Uwamariya started growing beetroot for a living, and then learned how to turn it into a rich, earthy red wine known as “Karisimbi.”

Uwamariya, 27, now grows beetroot on a seven-acre farm in the Rubavu district of western Rwanda, employing 17 people. She also buys the vegetable from local farmers.

The beetroot is gathered, washed, cut into small pieces, boiled, and left to ferment. She produces around 164 gallons a week, but hopes to more than double that by next year. She currently sells about 1,000 bottles every month.

Most of her customers are in Rwanda, including the capital Kigali, as well as in Mozambique, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said.

“I also found out that I have customers in Germany. I don’t know how my wine got there, but they told me that they tasted my wine and started ordering from me afterward. Some of them even came all the way here to see me and buy wine,” Uwamariya said.

Assoumpata Uwamariya (2R) samples raw beetroot bulbs harvested from a farm in Rubavu district, Western province, Rwanda Oct. 3, 2018. (Reuters/Jean Bizimana)

Her Rwandan customers seem well satisfied.

“It doesn’t really get you drunk like when you drink other types of alcohol. It just gives you a little buzz; it’s really tasty,” said one, Janvier Muhoza, in a local bar.

Another, Gandika J. Boco, said: “What I like about this wine is its price. … It’s affordable for most people, and it’s quite affordable compared to imported wines.”

By Themis Hakizimana

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