In 1997 Charles Back, having established Fairview in Paarl as one of South Africa’s most successful and popular wine estates, bought a farm called Klein Amoskuil near Malmesbury in the Swartland region north-west of Paarl, then rather better known for its wheat than its wine. It was the next step in applying his philosophy to ‘go where the terroir is’. In 2005 Spice Route Winery acquired vineyards in the cool hills outside the town on Darling near the Cape’s west coast. Sauvignon Blanc has found its home in those hills, with their deep red oakleaf soils. In addition, the Spice Route team has Semillon, Chenin Blanc and Shiraz vines there as well. The additional 200 acres provide fruit for their wines as well as some of the bottling under Back’s Fairview label.
In essence, the Spice Route Winery’s name reflects what the vineyard, the wines and the people are all about. It recalls the ancient mariners of the 15th century braving the tempestuous waters of the ‘Cape of Storms’ as they plied their trade bringing exotic Eastern spices to Western Europe along the so-called ‘Spice Route’. The view of Table Mountain from the Spice Route vineyards takes the imagination back to the scene which would have greeted those bygone sailors as they rounded the Cape Peninsula. In much the same way Charles Back went sailing into largely uncharted waters on his route to realising the viticultural potential of this part of the Swartland wine region. His venture’s name is equally evocative of the style of wines being made: rich, complex yet infinitely enjoyable, with ripe fruit of the finest quality skilfully enhanced through careful oaking… much as carefully selected spices bring out the flavours in a dish.