For Ntsiki Biyela, setting out to be South Africa’s first Black, female winemaker was never a goal of hers. Neither was becoming a winemaker. “I got a scholarship to study winemaking. It wasn’t something I was interested in.” But what did catch the former domestic worker’s interest was the opportunity the scholarship presented to her. “For me, it was a matter of changing my life.”
Ntsiki grew up in Mahlabathini, a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – and matriculated from high school in 1996. Having spent a year as a domestic worker, she was awarded a scholarship to study winemaking at Stellenbosch University in 1999.
She graduated in 2003 with a BSc in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) and joined boutique winery Stellekaya as their winemaker the following year.
Ntsiki’s ambition to create her own wines grew following a collaboration with Californian winemaker, Helen Kiplinger, as part of Mika Bulmash’s Wine for the World initiative.
It was over dinner and a glass of wine with her new colleagues in the USA that she shared the story of the inspiration behind her ambition.
Her beloved grandmother was the guiding light in her life and it became obvious that her new brand should be named Aslina in the matriarch’s honour.
In 2016, Biyela established Aslina Wines, inspired by the strength and determination of the biggest influence in her life, her grandmother. Today, Aslina is renowned for its range of premium wines and is the realisation of Ntsiki’s dream to create an exceptional world-class brand.
Discover the story behind Aslina – Ntsiki’s journey and inspiration, her philosophy and her achievements.
For more on Aslina Wines visit www.aslinawines.com