South Africa's first black woman winemaker just launched her own brand — and the world can't get enough of it

Business Insider SA
Winemaker and owner of Aslina Wines, Ntsiki Biyela gestures as she talks about her process at the Koelenhof Winery where she produces her wine. (Pieter Bauermeister, AFP)

  • SA’s first black woman-owned winery, Aslina, will ship 12,000 bottles to the USA, Germany, Taiwan, and Ghana this year.
  • Owner Ntsiki Biyela wants to increase production by half again to meet rising demand.
  • Competition is tough, but she thinks there is room for everyone.

Ntsiki Biyela still remembers the first sale she made.

“I’d sold a bottle to a man who actually wrote on the banknote that the money he presented was the beginning of a million more to come my way,” she said.

With a degree in viticulture from Stellenbosch University plus 13 years working for Stellakaya Winery later, her Aslina Wines will sell 12,000 bottles in the USA, Germany, Taiwan, and Ghana in 2018.

Next year she hopes to make that 18,000 bottles, she told Business Insider South Africa.

When I was working for or collaborating with other brands, I always knew that at some point I am going to have to start my own company – I also knew that I was going to name it after my late grandmother, Aslina, in her honour.
Ntsiki Biyela

Biyela had a solid business plan plus collateral, but discovered that banks were not too keen to finance a business that gets slapped with a hefty sin tax. So instead she started her business from her savings, much of it from a partnership with Californian winemaker Mika Bulmash’s Wine For The World, which helps wine exporting countries get into the US market.

VinPro, a non-profit company that represents South African wine producers, cellars, and industry stakeholders also came through with money that helped her bottle her 2015 chardonnay.

She outsources her operations, but rents a production cellar and is hands-on with the logistics of transporting barrels from the cellar to the bottling facility.

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