Ntsiki Biyela first made history when she became South Africa’s first female, Black winemaker at award-winning winery, Stellekaya. Her first red blend received a gold medal at the prestigious Michelangelo awards and in 2009 she was named South Africa’s Woman Winemaker of the Year. In 2017, she launched her own label, Aslina where produces small batches of exception wines made from from selected vineyards in the Western Cape.
An Unlikely Winemaker is Born
Ntsiki Biyela grew up in the rolling hills of Mahlabathini in Zululand, South Africa. In 1999 she was offered a scholarship to attend Stellenbosch University in the department of viticulture and oenology. Although she had never tasted wine before, and didn’t speak Afrikaans, the primary language of instruction, she accepted and excelled, eventually taking a position at renowned winery Stellekaya before going to found her own label in 2017, Aslina, named after her beloved grandmother and fierce supporter.
Sustainable Production and Storytelling
Biyela approaches winemaking with a reverence to nature and the passion and artistry of human intervention. She works exclusively with fair trade and sustainable vineyards to produce her Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and a Bordeaux- style blend called Umsasane. She believes that wine should tell a story from vine to glass, and that includes its origin and the woman behind it.
Conversation and Collaboration In the Winery And Abroad
Ntsiki Biyela values mentorship and continued conversation and collaboration. In her brief years as a business owner she has dedicated herself to giving back, both to the land and her community.
She regularly collaborates with wineries around the globe, and employ she sits on the board of directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, which provides technical training and personal development for young South Africans in the Cape Winelands, to prepare them for work in the wine industry.
Learn more about South African Wine with our complete guide.