#WINEFORGOOD: Raising Thunderchildren

Friday, 24 April, 2020
None of the children in Herberg Children's Home in Robertson originate from homes and communities where the sun proverbially always shines and where there is always lovely weather. The background of our children is characterised by dark and threatening clouds that sometimes creates the feeling of being pushed into the ground.

Thunderchild very accurately describes our children in the most beautiful way – the wonderful power of nature. These children are nature’s wonders who fight through the most threatening and thundering clouds – children that have overcome the darkness with the light and beauty and power of an electrical storm, in such a manner that we who deal with them, often stand amazed by their ability to shine brightly after darkness, trauma, hurt and longing. They are in the real sense true Thunderchildren.

The vineyard of the Herberg covers five hectares of land in Van Zyl Street adjacent to the home. Friends of the home suggested in 2002 that it would be more profitable to do away with the aged, unproductive apricot orchard and rather plant a vineyard. Local wine farming knowledge, as well as cellar facilities was made available for the maintenance and the eventual producing of wine.

The imagination of the Robertson community and individuals from all over was captured by this proposed project. Work was started with great enthusiasm and contributions in the form of fertilizer, soil preparation, plant material, irrigation and trellising, as well as labour and money were made available to launch the project without any costs for the children´s home. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot vines were planted in 2003 in equal amounts. It has grown so well that currently the vineyard is beautifully established. 

The Herberg originated in 1918 under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Church to care for orphans as a result of the flu–epidemic. The land on which the vineyard is situated, was made available to the children´s home in 1956. Today the home is a joint charitable non–profit programme of BADISA.

The present building of the home was erected in 1980 and makes provision for seven housing–units: three for girls, three for boys and one for babies and toddlers. The 122 children in care are from baby to 18 years of age, and come from different backgrounds. They are all removed from their parent–s care by means of a children–s court order. Their home circumstances are characterised by a variety of social problems, substance abuse, family violence, abuse (often sexual), psychiatric instability, behavioural problems, murder, rape, poverty, AIDS related deaths, etc.

Since the launch of the maiden vintage in 2008, and with the vintages that followed, the Thunderchild project has grown from strength to strength. Managed and guided by the Wingerdprojek Trust, 100% of the profits and proceeds from the sale of the Thunderchild wine goes to the Herberg Children’s Home in the form of an educational trust. Only hard costs are recovered, such as vineyard supplies, labour, and packaging costs - marketing and sales efforts are done by the community pro bono. Audited by Price Waterhouse Coopers, the Trust manages the allocation of the funding in ways that will be meaningful and most beneficial to the futures of the children. One of the smallest decisions with the largest impact, was the resolution to ensure that every child leaves the Children’s Home with a driver's license - something not taken into account by the government funding. With many of the children finding employment and apprenticeships in trade-related industries after finishing school, being able to drive is an indispensable asset.

The Thunderchild project has also employed a full-time tutor at the Home, to help any children with their studies and homework, as well as providing extra maths classes for all learners. By 2017, the project had sent 5 children to tertiary education of their choice across the country, paying for not only university or college fees, but for books, meals and pocket money as well. While BADISA and the SA government provide for the basic needs of these children, an admirable and large contribution, the Thunderchild project tries to go that extra mile for these children - something everyone would do for their own kids.

It is not every day that you can support a charity project, and get a fantastic bottle of wine in return - an added bonus, in a way. Every child has the potential inside of them to change the world, and the Thunderchild Project tries to unlock that potential for the children of the Robertson Children’s Home.

Springfield Estate volunteers their time and knowledge to produce the Thunderchild red blend for Die Herberg. The 2016 vintage is available for purchase on their website, or click here to buy


There are plenty of good news stories about upliftment and transformation in the South African Wine Industry. The #wineforgood website, launched by wine.co.za in June 2016, hosts all the positive stories from the winelands, of which there are plenty. wine.co.za has made April a focus for #wineforgood stories. Share them far and wide and spread the good news about South African wine.