The Black Oystercatcher is known for its fruit-flavoured wines, decadent food, and its perfect setting. But not that much is known about some of the Black Oystercatcher’s characters – those people whose hard work drives the wine farm and restaurant’s success.
Alfred Williams, known as Kanna, is one such character. In fact, Kanna has been involved with the Black Oystercatcher from the very beginning. He joined the team in 1994, and in 1998 owner Dirk Human took his first steps in realising his dream of starting a wine farm. Kanna helped plant the vineyards in that year – and proceeded to work as foreman on the farm for the next nine years.
That was the start of Kanna’s own close connection with viticulture. “I loved the vineyard work – it inspired me. And I loved the outdoors.” It also provided the spark that encouraged Kanna to become an independent contractor, to employ his own team, and to work on vineyards in the Overberg for the next eight years.
Two years ago, Kanna returned to his wine origins at the Black Oystercatcher, and today he and his team of 16 people (including his daughter Alfrida) look after the vineyards permanently: maintaining the vineyards and other farm infrastructure, picking grapes during harvest season, pruning the vineyards in winter, and assisting with wine bottling. Kanna and his team, seven of whom were unemployed before joining his business, live in Bredasdorp, and travel through in his truck daily.
While Kanna has made a successful business for himself today (called Strandveld Agri Landboudienste), he came from humble beginnings. He and his two older brothers and sister grew up on a farm outside Bredasdorp. They walked two hours to get to the Melkbos Farm school, and then another two hours home every day. His mother worked as a domestic worker on the farm, after his father died when he was just four. He says, “My mother (Grace) was very strong. She taught me a lot.”
Those lessons include the tenacity and commitment needed to run one’s own business. “At the start it was stressful when I become an independent contractor. I had to make my own decisions. But I had a lot of encouragement.” The Black Oystercatcher’s team also helped out along the way. “It’s amazing what I learned here. With Dirk, I know I can speak to him, he gives advice when I need it. We know each other well.”
Where to from here for Kanna? At age 50, Kanna’s next step is to have his own vineyards – a process the Black Oystercatcher is actively supporting and pursuing. “The dream in my heart is to have my own vineyard and farm, to leave something for my family.” Kanna is married to Charol, and has three grown daughters.
He also wishes to keep serving the community he lives in. Kanna is a priest at the Old Apostolic Church in Bredasdorp, and has been for the past 15 years. He says, “We work in an area with some challenges. So we encourage people to see things differently and to change their lives. To do that, we try to live with patience, humility, gentleness, and with honour to God.”