It’s cold and raining in Cape Town; I’m sitting in front of the fireplace with a lovely glass of red Goats do Roam. I’m thinking about Interschool’s almost a 100 year old tradition taking place this weekend in my hometown Paarl. These two rival schools Paarl Gymnasium and Boy’s High is a major event in school rugby. 

I’ll be there wearing my green and gold supporting Paarl Gymnasium my old school.  I’m looking forward to participating in the absolute euphoria that encompasses it all; reminiscing with old friends that come from here and afar.  All united in their boisterous battle cries for their respective schools even though some left more than a half a century ago.   On Friday both schools have the “Big Brag” which basically is a congregation of all the current students, their parents and the old boys/girls getting together in the assembly rooms for the rally cry at their respective schools.  So in the spirit of this weekend, let me share an inspiring story of my fellow classmate at Paarl Gymnasium, Charles Back owner of the wine I’m enjoying whiles writing this tale.

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The Goats do Roam (a sort of parody from the French wine called “Côtes du Rhône”) were introduced into the USA market in 1999 amidst protest from the French government regarding the registering of the trade names in the United States.   After initially threatening to block the distribution of the wines, the French authorities backed down after major media coverage that the action caused in the USA and United Kingdom.   Following this, the Goats do Roam range of wines has gone on to become the biggest selling South African wine brand in the United States.

A little off-point - I’m not sure how many of you saw these Goats scaling this near vertical dam in the Italian Alps: on the news, blogs, or the newspaper across the world – it’s not to be believed, so take a minute and follow this link.. I just had to show those of you who haven’t seen it.  Anyway back to my story.... 
In 1693 a tract of land on the southwestern slopes of Paarl Mountain was granted to Steven Verwey (thought to have been one of the French Huguenots who fled Protestant persecution in Europe from 1688) by Governor of the Cape Simon van der Stel, a Dutch East India Company official instrumental in developing several of the Cape’s first and still finest wine ‘estates’.  Just six years later, in 1699, the first wine was made on the farm.

In fact, the farm’s star started rising from 1937 when Back’s grandfather, Charles Back I - bought the property from the Hugo family.  Charles senior built a booming export business and producer some of South African’s champion wines.  Upon his death in 1955, he bequeathed a wine farm to each of his two sons, in whom he’d also instilled a passion for wine, a strong work ethic and a spirit of endeavour.   Klein Babylonstoren went to Sydney… and became Backsberg (now in the hands of Sydney’s son Michael Back).  Fairview was Cyril’s inheritance and today it’s owned by Charles Back II.

This third-generation Back vintner has built further on the Fairview family’s tradition of innovative wine growing.  As well as expanded his late father Cyril’s dairy goat herd, started in 1980, into a fully fledged cheesery producing international award-winning farm cheeses.

Today, in addition to wine and cheese tastings and sales, friendly Fairview welcomes visitors to The Goatshed, a Mediterranean-style indoor and outdoor al fresco eatery.

The original homestead, circa 1722, sold off in one of many earlier subdivisions, is back in the hands of Charles Back II and beautifully restored

A Few Team Players At Work

Charles acquired another wine estate called Spice Routes; also owns vineyards in Stellenbosch, Swartland and in Darling which gives him a wide range of climates and soils from which to forge his wines. Fairview’s has 125 hectares of vines; whilest his property in the Swartland (“Klein Amoskuil”) has a much drier and warmer climate; approximately the same size as Fairview.  Charles has shifted away from the typical South African focus on Bordeaux red varieties towards those of the South of France, which he thinks are better suited to the Cape’s various terroirs.

Under Charles Back II’s sure guidance, Fairview has come full circle: from its days as one of the Cape’s earliest wine farms developed by French Huguenot Steven Verwey at the turn of the 17th century, to its current position as one of South Africa’s most successful, enduring, innovative wineries firmly ensconced in the 21st century.  
Sorry, I just have to add this.   Go Paarl Gymnasium !!!!!!