Former chairman of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), Graham de Villiers, has sold his Franschhoek winery for R17 million to Congolese businessman, Miko Rwayitare, who owns Telecel, reputedly the largest mobile phone company in Africa.

Rwayitare, took over the winery on 1 July after visiting the farm, falling in love with it and deciding to buy. It is believed to be the first wholly black-owned winery in South Africa.

The title deed to the property should be confirmed in about four weeks time, according to De Villiers.

Besides the 9ha of grapes on the 33ha Mont Rochelle farm, there are another 26ha of leased vineyards in the valley, which gives the winery between 12,000 and 14,000 cases annually said De Villiers.

The cellar has a 200-ton capacity and there are two brands, under the Mont Rochelle and Petite Rochelle labels.

Rwayitare, who hails from the Democratic Republic of the Congo has an administrative office in Johannesburg, where he lives at present.

"I intend retiring in 2003 and love the challenge of producing some of the best wine in South Africa. Between now and then we will put everything in place, I need to learn more about the wine industry.

"The varietal mix at Mont Rochelle is 70% white and 30% red and I would like a more even mix, so we will be moving in that direction as well," Rwayitare said.