Some Thunder Clouds Have a Silver Lining

Thursday, 8 October, 2020
2020 has been a year of proverbial dark skies and thunderclouds rumbling on the horizon. A challenging year in terms of business, across every sector, and a year where victims of violence and abuse have been even more at risk than ever before. Yet, even the darkest clouds have silver linings, and this year has been no exception.

It has always been said that one can judge a community by how it pulls together at times of peril. History tells, over and over again, how during natural disasters, threats of war, times of sickness or disease, communities and even nations have either pulled together and helped their fellow man, or turned against one another, and fended only for themselves. History shows that it is those communities and people who stand together, who find strength in numbers, that survive the challenges that life throws at them best.

The Thunderchild story starts in 1918 in the face of great adversity: the Great Flu Pandemic was sweeping the globe and made landfall in South Africa in September of that year, quickly spreading across the country and claiming nearly 140 000 lives in two years. Towns were left ravaged by illness, with entire families being wiped out, and many children left orphaned or destitute. The small farming community of Robertson, which by the early 1900s only had about 3500 inhabitants, founded the Robertson Herberg Children’s Home in an effort to provide shelter for the many children who now had nowhere else to go. Today, in the face of our own Pandemic, the long lasting acts of our forefathers is even more poignant than ever.

Up until this day, the Herberg Children’s Home has continued to care for the children of the Robertson and surrounding communities without fail. Many of the children living there today are not orphans, but come from broken homes or from families unable to provide adequate care for their special needs. As a Non-Profit Organization, the Herberg Children’s Home cares for 122 boys and girls across all ages with funds from donations, sponsors and the state.

Being a farming community, the Herberg owned a 5 hectare apricot orchard next door to the Home, the fruit of which was sold to to provide an additional income. In the early 2000’s, stone fruit prices were falling due to a flooded market, and bottled wine sales had never been healthier. In 2003, after several years of contemplation and worrying about the viability and future of the apricot orchard, the Robertson townsfolk once again came together as a community and made the decision to uproot the trees.

It was decided to plant vines instead, with the goal to eventually make a wine from the grapes they would bear.

Everything used to establish the vineyard was donated - from the machinery used to prepare the soil, the fertilizers, the actual vines themselves, to the labour and expertise needed to plant the vines and manage the land. After years of carefully tending the vines, the first wine from the Herberg’s vineyard was finally made in 2008. We at Springfield make the wine as if it was one of our own, using only natural yeast and uncrushed, unpressed grapes, resulting in a beautifully complex wine with notes of cassis and red fruits, complemented by velvety tannins.

Many people wonder why the name Thunderchild was chosen for the wine, once it was ready to share with the world.

Storms are beautiful things - they hold so much energy, so much potential. A storm can bring destruction and devastation, yet it can bring new life and new beginnings as well, if experienced from a safe place. The lives of the children of the Herberg Children’s home have been characterized by dark, heavy clouds on the horizon - the threat of loss and hardship ever present. In a storm, one takes shelter in safe houses - buildings with solid foundations, secure roofs and watertight windows. The Thunderchild project aims to provide this same sense of security and safety for the children living in the home - a place of comfort in a life often darkened by clouds of thunder. This is how inspiration for the name “Thunderchild” came about, a name that encapsulates the often fragile balance between hope and destruction for these children.

The storm of 2020 has also brought a silver lining to the project - with online sales taking a new focus, our customers are finding the time to read and discover new wines -with Thunderchild being one of them.

Since the launch of the maiden vintage in 2008, and with the vintages that followed - 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2016 - with the 2019 vintage being labelled this week - the Thunderchild project has grown from strength to strength. Managed and guided by the Wingerdprojek Trust, 100% of the profits 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, and all funding allocations are made public on the Thunderchild website.  It has been a tough year for all parents, and without the care provided for these children, the academic year would have surely been lost.

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 - we like to call it drinking for a good cause. 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.

Buy Thunderchild Here