Serial entrepreneur Lerato Pretorious is the chief executive of Lavo Wines of Distinction, is the owner of her own wine brand named Lavo (meaning love). In 2015, after years of in depth market research, Pretorious introduced the wine brand that is today known as Lavo Wines. Here entrepreneurial journey started in the ICT industry in 2002, when she created an ICT company called Lehlaka group. In the following Q & A, Pretorious speaks to LEN MASEKO about her journey with wine….
What inspired you to launch your own wine?
I am a wine lover and also enjoy the finer things in life, so I have had to acquire the art of enjoying
wine. I love and enjoy entertaining at my house. During the 2010 world cup, while people were
flocking to the stadiums, I realised that ladies were actually enjoy drinking wine. This prompted me
to do more research into the industry and as I read up more I fell in love with the world of wine and
the lifestyle that goes with it.
And the name?
The name Lavo is derived from Sesotho name Lerato which means love. I love life, and the wine is
my love in a bottle for everyone to share and enjoy.
What teething problems have you experienced so far?
It is that it is not easy being the new kid on the block. When you get to the game field knowing that
there are well-known and trusted players, you have to work harder as the newbie to win over a
share of that trust from people who are not afraid to try new things, and actually give you a vote of
What would you regard as your biggest challenge?
As a woman, I have had to prove myself even more because women in business are viewed as non-
starters and emotional beings. So I have had to outwit some of my male competitors, in ensuring
that I get some part of the market no matter how small a piece.
What does your wine range consist of?
I have four cultivars namely, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. So, we are
looking into launching our premium wines later in a year.
So, how would you describe each of the wines in your range?
Our Chardonnay is fruity with gooseberry undertones, Sauvignon Blanc is fresh well balanced with
tropical carried palate. Cabernet is rich and soft styled Cabernet Sauvignon with concentrated dark
berry fruit, hind of Mocha, backed by silky tannins, the Merlot has berries with minty undertones,
along with black currant plums revelled on the back palate.
Do you think women will eventually overcome patriarchal attitudes in the wine industry?
Women are strong, bold, intuitive and strong willed. History does prove that women are a force to
be reckoned with. I believe that the patriarchal attitude in the industry will change with time.The
wine industry is historically family lineage and male dominated. Real change will come if we, as
women, also appreciate that we should never lose what sets us apart in business as women.
How did you become interested in wine?
As a regular entertainer and hostess, I realised that most of my guests would bring wine with them
to dinner. I found the taste to be very interesting and multilayered and I was intrigued by the tastes
and the aroma of the different cultivars.
Where is your wine sold?
At number of Restaurants, namely Codfather in Benmore Sandton, Gemeli in Brynston, Signature
in Hatfield, one can order directly from us on email@example.com,
What type of wine drinker are you targeting with your wine?
We are targeting new wine drinkers, entering the market. Our Chardonnay is very easy and fresh for
such drinkers in summer and the Cab Sav does that job very well in winter. Our merlot is for the
more developed wine drinker. We love people that enjoy a good glass of wine with their food.
What is your personal motto?
Life is too short; do not take it seriously; love unconditionally laugh a lot; play a lot; there is so much to be enjoyed in life.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
As Lerato, I dream in colour. In a short space of five years, I envision Lavo wines of distinction as one of the wine brands in South Africa. Part of our five year plan is to have the Lavo wine brand available across Africa, and to be a wine brand of choice in reputable retail outlets/ shops, restaurants and liquor outlets.