Thandi is looking to move towards full independent ownership within five years.

The South African Fairtrade wine brand is is currently 66%-owned by the farming communities of Nietbegin, Lebanon, and Paardenkloof, with South African wine exporter The Company of Wine People holding the remaining 34%.

Thandi said today (17 February) that, under the leadership of general manager Vernon Henn, it is preparing for a full transfer of ownership to its farm workers by 2014. Thereafter, Thandi will become the first black-owned, stand-alone wine company in the world, the firm claimed.

Under the new structure, the role of exporter will be handed over to Thandi, with Henn taking responsibility for creating the marketing strategy, which will be delivered on his behalf by The Company of Wine People.

"It's been five years since Thandi became a Fairtrade-accredited wine," said Henn. "Up until now we have utilised the skills and experience of The Company of Wine People to develop and build our brand and business.

"We are now ready to take hold of the reigns ourselves, a move that will empower our farm workers and ensure that they take full ownership of the profits generated by sales of the wines worldwide. I believe we will be the first Fairtrade brand to empower our workers in this way."