Celebrating 50 years of Wine Tourism in Stellenbosch

Monday, 12 April, 2021
Judy Brower | wine.co.za
Wine Tourism would look very different if 3 pioneers from Delheim, Simonsig and Spier did not put all their efforts into starting up the Stellenbosch Wine Routes back in1971.

In 1971, Stellenbosch became the first wine region in South Africa to establish a wine route as an organised network of wineries at which a tourist could experience the product of the vine and tune into the soul of the region's winelands. Today the Stellenbosch Wine Routes consists of more than 150 wineries, each offering a unique cellar-door experience for the wine-lover and tourist.

This happened only because 3 insightful and tough visionaries in the wine industry worked really hard to convince wineries in the area to form the wine route.
Spatz Sperling of Delheim, Frans Malan, Simonsig's father of Cap Classique in South Africa, and Niel Joubert, then owner of Spier, were at the forefront of the game, pushing to get the Stellenbosch wine farms recognised as a tourism destination 50 years ago. One of the challenges for the new Wine Route was that there was no signage on the roads to the wineries. A fortunate twist of fate persuaded Henrik Schoeman, then Minister of Transport to approve signage, as he famously got lost on a visit to Delheim!

In order to commemorate these forward-thinkers, we have curated a very special limited edition Founders' Pack, available exclusively from wine.co.za, giving you a taste of each of these iconic wineries. The pack consists of very special wines from each farm:

  • Delheim's Spatzendreck - the delicious nectar which has become a firm favourite of Delheim fans and of course their flagship red, the delicious Grand Reserve 2015 (a stunning vintage) was a no-brainer to include for you.

  • Simonsig is celebrating a double-whammy, as it is also 50 years since their first Cap Classique was produced.  We bring you their special new look Kaapse Vonkel Brut , as well as their very special Frans Malan Reserve Red 2014, drinkable right now after being cellared at the farm for 7 years already.

  • Spier is famous for its wines, its many gables, art, and of course sustainability. We thought their 21 Gables Chenin & Pinotage were perfectly on point to represent this iconic tourist destination.

Michael "Spatz" Sperling, brought up in East Prussia, came out to South Africa in 1951 as a 19-year old to help his aunt Deli and uncle Hans Hoheisen who had bought the farm Driespronng in 1938.  Spatz married Vera Feinarz in 1965, and together they worked really hard to put Delheim on the tourism map.  His first venture into modern wine (1963) was so vile that a lady friend called it ‘dreck’, surprisingly giving rise to the gorgeous Spatzendreck which we bring you in a wonderful presentation tube as part of our Founders' Pack.  The Spatzendreck is also celebrating 60 years of being in production this year - quite a feat!

Spatz challenged the status quo, he criticised, challenged and was honoured for his contribution to the wine industry by being bestowed with the prestigious 1659 Award in 2012

Spatz's daughter Nora now handles the marketing and son Victor is their viticulturist and together with a veritable army of staff, they are dedicated champions for the wine industry and the environment.  Vera is still very much involved and if you are lucky she will pop in to say hi at the tasting room or restaurant when you visit.

We visited the farm recently and chatted with Nora and Vera - view our video HERE

The 3 pioneers: Spatz Sperling (Delheim), Frans Malan (Simonsig) & Niel Joubert (Spier)

The iconic Spier has 21 gables on the beautiful farm on the R310, and the current philanthropic owners, the Enthoven family, have maintained this extraordinary collection of Cape Gables (more than any other farm in the country) and honoured the legacy of the farm's history.  

Their free-roaming livestock and chickens are reared in pastures without the use of antibiotics or hormones, while fruit, vegetables and vines grow without artificial fertiliser or pesticides. Extensive tracts of alien vegetation have been removed, and more than a million indigenous plants replanted. 100% of black- and grey-water and more than 98% of solid waste is recycled.

They have also invested in Growing for Good, a range of learning initiatives that empower communities to make positive social and environmental change. These include Tree-preneurs, which encourages people in impoverished communities to grow trees in exchange for essential goods. A number of programmes also offer young people work experience, training and mentorship in hospitality, agriculture, wine and art.

50 50 50 celebrations at Simonsig!

There is plenty more to celebrate in 2021 at the family-owned Simonsig on the Kromme Rhee road off the R44. The Malan family are synonymous with bubbly, with founder Frans Malan having produced the first Méthode Cap Classique in South Africa in 1971. 
Although carbon dioxide-injected sparkling wine had been made in South Africa for decades, it was not until the legendary Frans Malan visited the Champagne region of France in 1968 that any producer had considered giving their wine a sparkle through the age-old classical method of Champagne. Malan was infatuated by the processes he saw in the Champagne cellars and as he was an expert in chemistry, he found the magic of secondary fermentation in the bottle and the creation of bubbles nothing short of magic.

We are sure you will enjoy the 50 millions of bubbles in the Kaapse Vonkel and our other wonderful wines in our special Founders' Pack

There is very limited stock of this special limited edition set of wines, so don't wait - purchase yours now and keep for posterity.

Judy Brower

Judy has been running wine.co.za alongside her hubby Kevin Kidson since 1996. She takes photos, attends functions, writes occasionally, sells wine.co.za services, is Mrs HR at the company, cooks yummy lunches from time to time and generally is the glue at wine.co.za

Planting the first Stellenbosch Wine Routes sign in 1971
Planting the first Stellenbosch Wine Routes sign in 1971

Vera Sperling (Delheim)
Vera Sperling (Delheim)

Spier Deli
Spier Deli

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