Meet SA’s first black, female winemaker

We chat to Ntsiki Biyela, the owner of Aslina Wines and South Africa’s first black, female winemaker, about the art of winemaking.

1.To be an accomplished winemaker, you need to be passionate in order to produce great wines. You also need to be a good listener; you have to listen to the people who drink your wine.

2. The winemaking process entails a harvest and out-of-harvest season. The harvest season involves checking on the grapes, pressing and crushing them. The out-of-harvest season includes blending, bottling and labelling the wine. I enjoy the overall process because it feels like a festival during the harvest season. I get to play around with my artistry during the blending phase.

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3. My wine range is named after my grandmother because I wanted to pay tribute to her. I wanted to show my gratitude for all that she has done for me. My wine is currently on sale in Germany, and will be available locally next year.

4. I have learnt that when a great opportunity presents itself, you have to take it and see where it leads you. When I was awarded a bursary to study winemaking, I did not have a passion for it. But, over the years, I have fallen in love with winemaking. I also learnt that where you come from does not determine your future. I grew up in a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal and at some point, worked as a domestic worker to make ends meet. Today, I am a respected winemaker because I worked hard despite the odds that were stacked against me.

5. My advice to aspirant winemakers is to research the industry they want to be a part of. Also, think of ways to make it better. Be aware of all the various internal and external factors.

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