In a country in which wine making is still predominantly a largely male profession, we are celebrating South Africa’s pioneering women winemakers. Here are three of our favourite wines made exclusively by women winemakers:
1. Aslina Wine
Aslina is owned by Ntsipki Biyela, the first black women winemaker in South Africa. Aslina is named after Biyela’s late grandmother who was, and remains as, her inspiration.
After 13 years of being a winemaker and ambassador of Stellekaya wines, Ntsiki Biyela continued her journey of inspiration by starting her own brand. This followed the collaboration she has been doing with a Californian winemaker which was a brain child of Mika Bulmash from wine for the world. Ntsiki has consulted in France, making wine under Wine makers Collection in Bordeaux.
She grew up in Mahlabathini, a rural village in Kwazulu Natal. Having spent a year as a domestic worker, she was awarded a scholarship to study winemaking in 1999. She graduated in 2003 with a BSc in Agriculture (Viticulture and Oenology) at Stellenbosch University and joined Stellekaya the following year.
Andrea Freeborough, Cellar Master
From a budding age, Andrea Freeborough was clear about her calling to be a winemaker. After school she swiftly acquired an honours degree in viticulture, another in winemaking, and then began working as an assistant winemaker at Neethlingshof in Stellenbosch. Soon she was appointed a fully-fledged winemaker, working under former Nederburg cellar master Razvan Macici. Just four-and-a-half years later she was appointed to head Distell's Die Bergkelder, a job she held for a decade before returning to Nederburg to take over from Razvan in mid-2015. Freeborough is thrilled to come full circle to the familiar Nederburg aromas she so enjoys; fruit, yeast, wood, darkness and quiet. “Every morning I just can't wait to get to the cellar!”
Natasha Boks, White Wine Maker
Natasha Boks, an unashamed perfectionist, makes Nederburg's white wines under the direction of cellar-master Andrea Freeborough. She justifies her obsessive attention to detail by explaining that by being inflexible, she gives herself more room to manoeuvre when she needs it. "So, you could say that I'm inflexible to be more flexible.
Elize Coetzee, Cellar Master
Zonnebloem’s recently appointed Cellar Master, Elize Coetzee, was previously responsible for white wines under Deon Bischoff now oversees the entire range at the estate. “When you pick up a bottle of Zonnebloem, I want you to hold the promise of excellence in your hand but also, to know you are tasting Stellenbosch,” says Elize Coetzee.
Bonny van Niekerk, Red Wine Maker
Zonnebloem’s dedictaed red wine maker, and a true artisan in old world traditions. “I work to my natural rhythms whether I’m making wine or living my life. Let it be natural: that’s my motto.” Bonny who has worked in Germany, Ireland and California, loves spending time outdoors when she isn’t in the cellar.
For the best wines in South Africa shop www.wineofthemonth.co.za