Spark Africa is always looking for new businesses and surprising initiatives. Today, we report from the wine fields in South Africa.
South Africa. Population: 49.1 million. GNP per capita: US$10,313. Wine production 2008: 763 million liters.
Ever since the 17th century, wealthy white men have dominated the local wine industry. Now, a talented 28-year-old black woman wants to shake things up.
ANDREA WILLEMSE [Spark South Africa]
I'm in one of the most fertile and productive areas in South Africa, the vineyard of Stellenbosch. Winemaking in the country has very strong European roots, but recently, more and more emerging winemakers have entered the South African market.
The number of black winemakers in South Africa's wine industry is increasing. The frontrunner of these winemakers is Ntsiki Biyela. She has been connected to the Stellekaya vineyards for over five years. This talented winemaker is the company's pride since she won the Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2009. That makes Ntsiki the first black woman in South Africa who has earned this title.
NTSIKI BIYELA [Woman Winemaker of the Year, 2009]
The Woman Winemaker of the Year award, for me, it's more of a step toward something that I'm doing, and it was a good thing to get appreciated for what you've done in your industry.
LINDIE SMITH [General Manager, Stellekaya Winery]
We've always referred to Ntsiki as our rising star, but I think she's no longer a rising star. She is the brightest, biggest star at Stellekaya, and we're exceptionally proud of her.
PHILIP VAN ZYL [Editor, John Platter's SA Wine Guide]
I think she'd be a fantastic ambassador for her winery, in the first instance, and then for South African wine in general.
Ntsiki was born in the village of Ulundi in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Before, she worked as a cleaner to pay for her education. After, she got a scholarship and studied winery at the agriculture department of the university of Stellenbosch, from where she graduated in 2003. Currently, she is an enthusiastic promoter of the wines of Stellakaya, especially of her winning wine.
This wine, specifically, the cabernet sauvignon, it's a fruity wine. It represents. You get all the character that you need in a cabernet sauvignon. Most people, when they taste it, they say it's very juicy. People will say to me they don't drink cabernet sauvignon because it's big and this and this. I always give them Stellekaya cab, and they always go, okay, from now on, I'm going to drink cabernet sauvignon.
But Ntsiki isn't there yet. Being very scrupulous, she treats every wine like it's her own child that she needs to raise and take care of. Only perfection will help her conquer the world of wines. The Woman Winemaker of the Year award is good motivation to Ntsiki and other young, talented winemakers.
I think I have become a role model for, actually, the young people coming up, not only black people, even the white youngsters, I've become a role model for them, because for them to see someone who comes from a different background getting into something that they didn't know before and also being successful in it. So, for the consumers out there, to say that it's not just for the elite to be in the wine industry. It's now for everyone.
Obviously, a woman's touch is having a profound influence on South African wine. Gesondheid! [Cheers]