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South Africa’s First Black Female Winemaker Goes Solo

by  CN Team on January 14, 2017
South Africa’s First Black Female Winemaker Goes Solo

Picture courtesy of Ilana Sharlin Stone/Zester Daily via Reuters 

In a country in which wine making is still predominantly a white, largely male profession, South Africa’s first black woman winemaker, Ntsiki Biyela, is a pioneer: her latest achievement, the creation of her own brand, Aslina. Biyela is no novice to wine making, having brought accolades to red wine producer Stellekaya for the past 13 years. But forging her own self-funded venture and uplifting others is her ultimate prize.

Unless you really know South Africa, it would be difficult to understand the remarkability of Biyela’s journey. She grew up in Mahlabathini, a small rural village in Kwazulu-Natal, about 800 miles from South Africa’s Western Cape Winelands. Biyela’s mother was a domestic worker (house cleaner) and Ntsiki was raised by her grandmother, along with seven other children. Biyela, who also worked as a cleaner after high school, had university dreams, feasible only with a scholarship. Instead of engineering, her field of choice, she was offered a scholarship in viticulture and oenology at Stellenbosch University in 1999, five years after South Africa became a democracy. “It was an opportunity to change my life,” she said.

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