She has graced the covers of magazines and shared her extensive wine knowledge on SABC, SAfm and CNN (amongst other media outlets), but it was in a New York Times article where I first ‘met’ Ntisiki Biyela.
Ntisiki Biyela; wine connoisseur; owner of Aslina Wines and the first black female winemaker in South Africa. Having grown up under her late grandmother’s care in Mahlabathini, a rural village in Kwazulu Natal, it was only fitting for Ntsiki to name her company after the person whose guidance continues to inspire her today, Aslina.
Her post-high school years saw her doing a short stint in domestic work before she was awarded a scholarship to study winemaking, later graduating with a BSc in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) from Stellenbosch University. Ntiski then joined Stellekaya, a ‘privately owned boutique wine producer situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands’ and quickly made a name for herself being crowned Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2009.
After 13 years at Stellekaya as both winemaker and ambassador, Ntsiki continued her journey of inspiration by starting her own brand. It was then, in Stellenbosch, that I finally had the pleasure of meeting her in person. We tasted a few wines she made at Stellekaya which were simply fantastic.
She gifted me a bottle of her Aslina Cabernet Sauvignon and one of Aslina Sauvignon Blanc and instructed me to drink one when I got home and keep the other for 10 years. I complied and shared the lovely full-bodied bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon with my dad. Needless to say, the amazing aromas and dark fruity tastes with hints of mint pleased our palates immensely.
Ntsiki has consulted in France, making wine in Bordeaux; has collaborations with Californian wine makers and is a judge for competitions in the wine industry such as SAA wine selection and Diners Club Winemaker of the Year. She also 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, preparing them for work in the wine industry.
The Aslina Cabernet Sauvignon is included in our 2nd release for 2017 and the Aslina Sauvignon Blanc was part of Veevinos’ wine tasting event. Both wines are sold exclusively overseas, so you are in for a treat!
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