Vineyards site selection has led to improved grape and wine quality.
When Fairview began bottling wine under its own label in 1974, the farm operated as an estate, with all grape growing and wine production taking place on the Paarl premises. Charles Back abandoned the estate wine concept in the 1980s choosing rather to “go where the terroir is”, which opened up the opportunity to produce a wider range of wines, using grapes that are grown in optimal conditions.
Paarl: 350 hectares
The vineyards at the home of Fairview are planted on well-drained decomposed granite soils, on the south western slopes of Paarl mountain, below Paarl Rock. Starting in 2006, a replanting program was undertaken, introducing new varietals and vineyard practices. With Fairview having purchased an adjacent farm, this program has resulted in the majority of the premium vineyard plantings now being on the favourable soils on the slopes of the mountain as opposed to the sandier valley floor. With an average summer temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, warmer climate varietals are preferred. These include Shiraz, Pinotage, Petite Sirah, Viognier and Grenache. Aside from a block of old bushvine Chenin Blanc, most vineyards are trelissed and receive supplementary drip irrigation during the warm summer months.
Swartland: 115 hectares
Charles Back was one of the pioneers of premium wine production in the Swartland, and Fairview purchased vineyards there in 1997. These are on the farm Amoskuil and are shared with another of Back’s cellars, The Spice Route Winery. The undulating hills of the Swartland create unique pockets of soil and care has been taken in selecting the best varietals to suit the sites. The soils of Fairview’s Swartland vineyards are dominated by deep, ferric oakleaf soils, with the h2 water retention properties. These properties are vital in sustaining the vineyards through the summer months, as the farm is not irrigated. There are also pockets of shale and koffieklip (ferricrete) soils. The vineyards are mostly untrellised bushvines (bosstok). Varietals planted at Amoskuil include red varietals Shiraz, Carignan, Grenache, Tannat, Mourvèdre and Petite Sirah, as well as the white grapes Viognier and Chenin Blanc.
Darling: 86 hectares
Formerly included in the Swartland region, Darling’s maritime influence from the Atlantic Ocean, creates sufficient differentiation of terroir to have seen it declared its own ward. The western hills outside the town are blessed with deep red oakleaf soils, and with summer temperatures averaging in the low twenties, are perfectly suited to premium dryland Sauvignon Blanc production. The site of Fairview’s vineyard was selected due to these factors and varietals were selected that would suit the terroir. While Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 60 hectares, Semillon, Nouvelle and Riesling are also planted and show real promise. There are also small pockets of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are used as blending partners for grapes from some other regions.
The white grape varietals from Darling characteristically show good structure, generous mouthfeel and an attractive minerality. The reds exhibit cool climate style, with pepper and spices coming through in the flavours and aromas of the wines.
Stellenbosch: 35 hectares
The home of Bordeaux varietals in the Cape, Fairview’s trellised Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot vineyards are on the western side of the Helderberg mountains. The farm is called Houmoed and the soils are predominantly Koffieklip, literally translated as ‘coffee stone’, descriptive of their appearance. These soils are also known as ferricrete and are a combination of clay and iron rich soils, giving Koffieklip its characteristic colour.