South Africa’s First Black Woman Winemaker 

Ntsiki Biyela was raised in the rural village of Mahlabathini in South Africa. She worked as a domestic worker before becoming the country's first Black female winemaker. She was recruited by her high school and applied for a winemaking scholarship at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where she tasted wine for the first time. She was driven to change her life and wine just happened to be the avenue she took in order to do this. 

After she graduated, she worked at first as a junior winemaker at Stellekaya Wines before opening her own company called Aslina, 10 years later, in 2016. Aslina is named after her grandmother, who raised her. She did a consultation at Château d'Arsac in Bordeaux with the Winemaker's Collection project. She also collaborated with Helen Keplinger of Napa's Keplinger Wines on a series named Suo, for a Wine for the World collaboration.

Biyela took the knowledge she aquired back with her to South Africa where she began producing award-winning wines. She is a member of the board of directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, where they help young South Africans prepare for the wine industry. 

Ntsiki was voted Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2009  and in 2021, she won the Diversity and Award at the Wine Harvest Commemorative Event for her pioneering winemaking in South Africa. Her hope for Aslina Wines is that through her good example she can help change people's lives for the better.


Author: Sylvia Jacobs

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