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Tuesday, 07 December 2010 11:33

Backsberg Estate Cellars.

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Our family history in South Africa starts back at the beginning of the last century when my grandfather arrived at the shores of Cape Town as a penniless political and religious refugee from Lithuania.


Graduating from working as a dockhand on the reclamation program around what today is the Waterfront, he started as a bicycle delivery “boy”, and finally bought a butcher shop at Paarl train station. The story goes that one morning someone arrived at the shop and asked if he would be interested in buying a farm. Mr. C.L. Back thought this an excellent idea and sold the butchers shop to purchase what is today known as Backsberg Estate Cellars.


Farming activities in those days were mixed; some grain, some live stock, some fruit and in time, some wine grapes. Once wine making started in the early 20′s the wine was sold either to the KWV, or in bulk to destinations like England. Should you visit the cellars you will see pictures of my grandfather and father standing proudly at Cape Town harbour loading tankers of wine for shipment to France where there was a shortage of wine after the 2nd World War.

The philosophy of Backsberg remains that of providing pleasure and enjoyment to a broad range of wine lovers by producing wines not only with structure and finesse, but also with a high level of “drinkability”. To put it simply, if you find our wines easy to drink then we are achieving what we want. This philosophy has to exist under an overall umbrella of Care. Care of our land, our product and the people who work for us – and care of the environment in which we find ourselves.

We currently have around 110 ha under vineyard and additional satellite vineyards in two other areas. Our vineyards are located along the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountains, mid way between Paarl and Stellenbosch and some 40 minutes from Cape Town.


We are blessed with a wonderful climate; full sunny days in the summer and cold wet days in the winter – a great location to ‘grow’ wine.


For us the key to producing high quality fruit lies in the word ‘balance’. This word must apply in all our decisions from site selection, to style of trellis, canopy management and irrigation.


A question often asked by other growers of each other and wine writers of growers, is what is your yield per hectare. For us at Backsberg this question has been consigned to the bin and replaced with the question what is your yield per square meter of canopy. Given that the canopy or the leaves are the “factory” of the vine that ensure fruit concentration and ripeness, the issue is not yield per square meter of surface area but rather yield per square meter of “factory” that is balance.


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