|Winemaker and Director of Aslina Wines, South Africa|
Ntsiki Biyela is the Winemaker and Director of Aslina Wines, a company named in honour of her late grandmother, Aslina.
She grew up in Mahlabathini, a rural village in Kwa Zulu-Natal, where she matriculated from high school in 1996. Having spent a year as a domestic worker, she was awarded a scholarship through South African Airways to study winemaking at the University of Stellenbosch in 1999. She graduated in 2003 with a BSc in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) and joined Stellekaya, a boutique winery, as their Winemaker in 2004.
Ntsiki is a Pioneer Woman and has earned many accolades. In 2009, she was crowned Woman Winemaker of the Year. For two consecutive years, she was voted The Most Influential Women in Business and Government. In 2017, she was named in Top 20 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drinks by Fortune Magazine. She has also been named as one of the top 15 Women in Wine to Watch by Food and Wine Magazine in the USA.
She has received numerous awards for her wines, including Gold Medals from the Michelangelo Wine and Spirits Awards for her 2016 and 2017 vintages, as well as Gold from the Sakura Awards in Japan for two consecutive years for different vintages. Not only has Aslina won awards, it has also won the hearts of people globally for what the brand stands for. Ntsiki is an inspiration to women across the world and in particular people of colour who are starting out their careers in the wine industry.
Throughout her career, she has travelled extensively both for harvest, as well as to introduce Aslina and its wines to new markets. She has harvested and consulted in France and spent time in Italy, New Zealand and the California winelands. She has also visited the USA, Europe and Asia where her wines are now available and becoming increasingly popular.
Ntsiki has received widespread media coverage throughout the world, including features on CNN, the front page of the New York Times, CNBC, SABC (multiple shows), Good Morning America, Classic FM, Forbes magazine, SAFM, Ukhozi FM and many more.
The work she does is not limited. She is also involved in the judging of competitions within the wine industry – for example, SAA Wine Selection, Diners Club Winemaker of the Year competition, IWSC (International Wine and Spirit Competition) and the Nederberg Auction, to name but a few.
Finally, she sits on the Board of Directors for the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, which trains young unemployed 18-25 year olds to ready them for careers in the wine and tourism industries. The Academy teaches technical skills throughout the value chain and most importantly, places a strong emphasis on all-important personal development. The programme offers them the unique opportunity to emulate Ntsiki’s own considerable success.