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10 Questions For: Ntsiki Biyela

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10 Questions For: Ntsiki Biyela

Get to know the first black female winemaker in South Africa

Last updated: Tuesdsay, 12 March 2024

You might know her as the first black female winemaker in South Africa. But did you know that she loves fantasy novels, or once mistook wasabi for avocado?

We sat down with the owner and founder of Aslina Wines, Nstiki Biyela. She unpacks mental health hacks, how to get red wine stains out of clothes and her favourite Stellenbosch restaurant. Plus, find out about Aslina Wines’ new tasting room. 


Ntsiki Biyela and bottles of Aslina Wines. Image: Aslina Wines

1. If you were a bottle of wine, what would you be?

An MCC. I’d look serious on the outside, but have a lot of bubbly child-like energy inside.

2. Tell us about a funny anecdote that you remember vividly.

This isn’t really funny, it was more painful. When I was working at Stellekaya I walked down the stairs and was greeted by a floor full of red wine. A small tank of pinot Noir had fallen. I was on the verge of crying.

3. What’s one thing no one knows about you?

I love to sleep – especially in nature. Just a 10 minute power nap, it makes a huge difference. So when I go for my walks on the weekend at Helderberg Nature Reserve I’ll sleep on one of the benches. It just feels good.

4. Asking for a friend ;-) What is your hack to get wine stains out of clothes?

Pour white wine on it immediately (while it is still wet). Then rub it.

5. What piece of advice would you give your 18 year old self?

What’s supposed to be yours will always come to you.

6. Top South African track that you will always have in your playlist is…

Ithuba by Lwah Ndlunkulu. It speaks about the current situation for us in South Africa. It’s a gratitude song.

7. The most embarrassing moment of your life, or one of them, is when…

I ate wasabi thinking it’s avocado. It happened in my twenties when I came to Stellenbosch to study. I was being exposed to different things that I didn’t know. It definitely looked like avocado, it didn’t make sense that it could be something terrible. They should put a warning up.

8. What is one wine, besides your own, that you have to have in your kitchen?

Delheim Rosé, especially during summer when it’s hot.

9. One hack, exercise, tool or saying that I use to stay sane that perhaps can help someone is…

Reading fiction books to stay calm. Right now I’m reading Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I saw someone reading it on a train while I was in London, and them my mentor Jilly Best bought it for me. Previously I was reading a lot of werewolf books. With fantasy you get lost in it, and forget everything and anything that’s around you. You leave the world for the time being.

10. A restaurant that you think our readers should visit is…

Post and Pepper in Stellenbosch. The small plates are so decorative and it has a very innovative menu. They’ve got pork lollipops (that for me is such a funny name) which is basically pork on a stick. It’s really delicious. Susa in Bree Street is very exciting too. 

ASLINA WINES TASTING ROOM

Ntsiki grew up in Mahlabathini, a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal. After being employed as a domestic worker for a year, she was awarded a scholarship to study winemaking at Stellenbosch University in 1999 – not knowing a word of Afrikaans. 

Today she has forged a path to become a widely-admired name in the world of wine. In 2016 established Aslina Wines, inspired and named after the biggest influence in her life, her grandmother. 

Its newly opened tasting in Stellenbosch has special wines to taste like Umsasane, in Zulu means the "umbrella tree", which is Ntsiki’s grandmother’s nickname. There’s also the mild buttery Chardonnay with undertones of honeybush tea; and Cabernet Sauvignon with hints of mint, cigar box and loads of dark fruits. 


There’s two wine tasting packages, Ibhinca (three wines) and Kokwana (five wines).  Image: Aslina Wines

VISIT ASLINA WINES

Aslina Wines is open: Tuesday – Friday; 10am – 4pm
Find it: Unit 1, Ground Floor, Building 4, Alberto Drive, Devonbosch, Stellenbosch
Book: Tastings are strictly by appointment. Email sales@aslinawines.com or call 021 300 3486
Cost: From R85 for tastings
Contact on: info@aslinawines.com, @aslina_wines

By Lara van Zyl

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