Biyela's open secret to making the best wine

NTSIKI Biyela's eyes sparkle when she talks about her wines.

NTSIKI Biyela's eyes sparkle when she talks about her wines.

As one of the few women in the wine industry, Biyela has established herself as a force to be reckoned with after being named SA woman winemaker of the year.

The quality of her wines beat 64 other wine entries from 28 woman winemakers across South Africa.

Her interest in the wine industry developed a while back when, while still a student, she became curious about wines and how they are made.

She received a scholarship from South African Airways to study and has never looked back.

After graduation Biyela got a job at Stellekaya, a privately owned boutique wine producer, where she made a name for herself as one of the best winemakers specialising in red wines.

Though she makes the best Merlot and Shiraz, Biyela said it was her finely made Cabernet Sauvignon that earned her the recent accolade.

So what makes her wines unique?

"I make my wine with passion," she said. "I also try to make sure that the wine is accessible even if you are not a wine lover."

Her moment of triumph, she said, was when she bottled her first wine and saw it getting to the market.

Asked about the participation of women in the industry, Biyela said while black women were almost "nonexistent", women in general were not as visible as they should be in the industry.

"I guess that is how things currently stand for women, especially if you are in an environment that is male-dominated," she said.

Biyela said there was so much women could do in the wine industry.

"This includes research, wine marketing, brand ambassadors, administration, packaging, warehousing, wine judging and, of course, wine-making.

"There is still room for growth and there is a need to create awareness about the industry," she said.

Biyela, who finds joy in knowing that someone out there is enjoying her "work of art", advised women not to give up on their dreams, to be passionate and to be eager to share knowledge with others.

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