From grapes to cocoa, here is how a Ghanaian winery produces its unique wines

Vanessa Calys-Tagoe October 23, 2022
Photo via Twitter/ Harrison Adjimah (@voltawinery)

When we talk of wine, the first thing that registers in the minds of people is red wine then later white wine and then sweet wine. Then later there’s the sophisticated cabernet sauvignon chardonnay and rosé. All of these wines are derived from fermented grapes. 

Since time immemorial, in the BC era, when wine was first discovered, to date, the primary material or raw product of wine has been grapes. From Château Margaux of Bordeaux in France to the Zuccardi Valle de Uco – Mendoza, Argentina, no other raw material than grapes are used to produce wine. 

Although not known globally for wines, some African countries produce wines in large quantities for exportation. Countries like South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, just to name a few have wineries that have been producing quality wines for decades now. These known African wine countries however are not the only African countries that produce wine. One could say that they are toeing the same lines as Europe and the West in the production of wine from grapes because in Ghana, West Africa, wine is produced from everything. 

The first mention of wine in Ghana is the local Palm Wine made from palm trees. The ‘wine’ is tapped and harvested directly from the tree in its natural state. Although palm wine does not ferment into alcohol, it becomes a famous local drink known as akpeteshie, an aphrodisiac enjoyed by Ghanaians across the country, but Ghanaians love their wines as proved by the gross importation of wine from South Africa, Argentina, France and other countries. 

Realizing this, a Professor with the Ho Technical University in the Volta Region of the country, Dr. Harrison Adjimah, started the Volta Winery. The winery produces wine not from grapes (grapes don’t grow in Ghana) but from cashew, coffee beans and then its latest cocoa. 

The production of wines made from cocoa becomes a feat as cocoa is one of the country’s biggest exports. The juice from the pulp is extracted and fermented in a barrel before being suitable for drinking after six months. The varieties of wine are white wines made from cashew, coffee, and cocoa. The fourth is a red wine prepared with cocoa pulp and hibiscus. Volta has a 12% alcohol content, and each varietal has its distinct personality.

According to Dr. Adjimah, many aspects of the fruits he uses for his wines are not exploited enough in the country and realizing this, he set out to make a difference. Volta Winery aspires to be Ghana’s premier cocoa, coffee, and cashew winery by adhering to traditional winemaking methods.

The country’s leading wine outlet, Sai Wine Limited, has included the Volta brands in its array of wines it sells. The company operating in Ghana sold wines from age-old wine countries and when Ghana started producing its version of wine, Sai Wine had to stock it up.

The CEO of Sai Wine Ltd, Nadia Takyiwaa-Mensah, told HowWeMadeitinAfrica, “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,” she said.

She continued: “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 punches 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.”

While the company continues to grow and expand its reach, Ghanaians are excited about the production of wine from their cocoa, a new light in the exportation of goods, not just the raw material when it comes to cocoa. It’s no doubt that the Volta Winery is here to stay giving Ghana and Africa as a whole a new perspective in the production of everyone’s favorite sophisticated alcohol — wine.  

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