Selena Cuffe is hoping to leverage the upcoming World Cup of soccer to promote the wines and stories of black-owned South African vineyards.

The idea for Los Angeles-based Heritage Link Brands began fermenting after Cuffe attended a wine festival in Soweto and met the owner of a local winery – Seven Sisters – who was struggling to get her wines distributed (read original story here).

“She shared with me that South Africa had a $3 billion wine industry and of that less than 2 percent is owned by black South Africans, who are 85 percent of the population,” said Cuffe.

Cuffe invested $70,000 in personal savings and 18 months on extensive market research and product development to make sure she had a winner on her hands. She launched her company in February 2007. “There is truly something going on here that needs to be brought to the attention of wine consumers and wine lovers everywhere. So that was the ‘a-ha’ moment.”

THE PITCH

Cuffe is targeting her wines primarily to “millennials,” the 21-30-year-old demographic that she feels is driving the wine industry and who “completely skipped over the beer category in terms of their entrance into alcohol and went straight for wine.” Cuffe is also pitching her products to the “conscientious consumers,” who care about the positive impact their purchases are making, and to her African American compatriots, who she said feel “a kinship with these great people in South Africa.”