It’s no wonder vineyards date back to 1659 in South Africa during the height of explorations by the Dutch East India Company in the southern hemisphere. Concentrated around the rise of Cape Town, the wine industry went through a series of ups and downs over the next two hundred years. Isolated bursts of success would succumb to economic hardships, epidemics and often general lack of interest.
With government organization and support in the early 20th century, the South African wine industry started its journey towards sustainability including widespread adoption of advancements in recent times in viticultural and winemaking technologies. Today, 70% of all grapes harvested in South Africa reach the consumer market as wine.
Our guest presenter at the first Seven Glaciers Wine Dinner of the summer is Charles Back, a hero amongst South African winemakers. His current portfolio includes Fairview Winery, Goats du Roam Wine Company, and Spice Route Winery—all featured at the upcoming dinner.
Charles was raised on the Fairview Farm, which his family had bought in the late 1930s. He was trained in oenology and viticulture at Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch. After gaining his qualification, Charles returned to Fairview in 1978 and worked on the farm, side-by-side with field workers. His hands-on approach, energy and inventiveness remain the driving force behind both Fairview and Spice Route’s success. In 1981, Charles built the trademark goat’s tower that has become Fairview’s symbol, and in time, led to the unique Goats do Roam name.
Setting himself and Fairview apart from the predominant “estate” model for quality South African wines, Charles owns vineyards in Stellenbosch, Darling and Swartland—three diverse regions providing access to a wide range of climates and soils. He has also strayed from the South African tradition of focusing on Bordeaux red varieties, leaning more towards those of the South of France, which he thinks are better suited to the terrain of the Cape region.
In the warmer, drier Swartland area, Charles has planted varieties such as Shiraz, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Grenache and Viogner. Much of these grapes are used to make the Spice Route wines, although some grapes have been know to find their way to Fairview. On his land in the cool-climate Darling hills, Charles has focused on white varieties.
The Chef’s Tasting Menu prepared by Executive Chef Jason Porter reflects the diverse nature of the Charles’s wineries. We invite you to join us on Tuesday, June 21 at 7 pm for this special evening of wine and food. RSVP now >