Nelson Mandela's granddaughter Tukwini Mandela says running a fair trade business is an important part of staying true to her family's legacy.

Mandela is in Winnipeg this week to speak at the National Fair Trade Conference and to promote her family's winery, House of Mandela. The fair trade enterprise sells wine made from grapes grown in South African vineyards. A premium is included in the price of each bottle of House of Mandela wine, and it goes directly back to labourers, said Mandela.

"It's there to maintain the dignity of the farm workers," Mandela said, "paying for the health, for the education, for their salaries." If the wine is purchased from a farm co-op, the premium is reinvested in the farm, she said.

"People see a final bottle of wine, but they don't necessarily [see] the work that actually goes into it," Mandela said. House of Mandela hopes to bring the people who make the wine to the forefront. 

Concerns about marketing Mandela 

At first the family was not sure about using Nelson Mandela's image to sell a product, even if it is fair trade, Mandela said. Her grandfather's image was already "over-commercialized," she said.

In the end, she and her mother decided they would use his image because Nelson Mandela is a proud son in a long line of Mandelas.

"It's about the house of Mandela, where he comes from," she said.

"We just decided that this is our name, this is our legacy; we have to own it."

Mandela was 19 when Nelson Mandela was released from jail and when he was freed, building relationships with his family took time, she said.

"The emotional connection wasn't necessarily there.… He sort of had to learn that from scratch," she said.

"This is our legacy; we have to own it." - Tukwini Mandela

Many people assume Nelson Mandela fell from the sky, she said, but he is from a family that for generations has fought for social justice.

The wine business was "a great way for us to just tell our family story without necessarily politicizing it."