02 Jan Fairview: Then and Now (1998 -2017)
Recently, one of our longest standing tasting room hosts (both literally and figuratively), Lyn Brodovcky wrote a memoir of her time at Fairview over the last 19 years. Here’s what she has to say:
Hi. I am Lyn, one of the longest ‘surviving’ staff members at Fairview. While attending Charles Back’s mother’s funeral in May 1998, I met Fairview’s then Marketing Manager, Jeremy Borg. He asked if I was still convening concerts at the Grande Roche in aid of Drakenstein Hospice. I replied in the affirmative but that I needed to start earning some pocket money to aid my volunteering efforts. He then mentioned Fairview was hiring. I applied and 2 weeks later was happily employed.
A month later, I mentioned to Jeremy that I felt guilty getting my job at a funeral! He brushed it aside saying, “Oh no Lyn, don’t be – the mafia do it all the time!”. Fast forward 19 years and I am still here and seem to be maturing like a good bottle of red – not yet having reached my expiry date.
Radical changes have occurred here at Fairview over the last 2 decades. When Charles lost his father in 1996, Fairview was the only farm that he owned. We now have several farms in all the major viticultural destinations and specific vines are planted in the terroir that serve them best. For example, our Sauvignon Blanc enjoys the cool breeze blowing off the Atlantic Ocean near Darling on the West Coast. Meanwhile, the Bordeaux classics like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are grown on Houmoed farm in the Firgrove area nearer False Bay and are therefore cooler than Paarl.
Changes in the Tasting Room have also been remarkable. The biggest change to my mind, excluding structural changes in the Tasting Room, have been the new varietals I can offer our guests. In 1998, I poured “the usual suspects” Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Weiser Riesling (now called Riesling) and the then new kid on the block, Viognier.
Charles has since uprooted many vines and planted more Mediterranean grapes that can withstand the heat and dry conditions in Paarl and Malmesbury. We now pour Spanish wines such as Carignan, Grenache Noir and Tempranillo, as well as Portuguese varieties such as Souzão and Verdelho. We’ve also updated a lot of our label design, with exciting blends such as Broken Barrel and Extraño.
From a small wine counter in a tiny room serving about 8 people at a time, we now have 5 dedicated serving pods which can accommodate 150 people. Where we were once a staff of 6, we are now a bustling team of 35 members handling over 1000 people a day in season. Our cheese tasting counter once held mounds of cheese samples that guests helped themselves to while ignoring Charles’s sign which read: “Bear in mind this is a cheese tasting, not brunch”. We have now updated our offering to include a curated cheese and wine pairing with 6 cheeses to match 6 wines, providing a more integrated and interactive experience.
At the entrance to the Tasting Room, a traditional garden has been built in memory of Beryl and Cyril Back. Trimmed hedges, a profusion of clivias, white roses and a pond full of Koi fish delight the eye. The trees are 20 years old now and provide shade and homes for many garden birds including the pin-tailed whydah, Cape sparrow, house sparrow, olive thrush and common fiscal to name a few. I watch the arrivals and departures of our migrating sparrows and swifts who leave for warmer climates in autumn and I marvel when they return back to their old nests in summer!
We forget to observe. We are often too busy on our mobiles taking group photos and selfies to see nature play out her amazing adventure. The drama continues high in the sky above Fairview where magnificent harrier-hawks, kites, goshawks, fish eagles and black eagles use thermals to elevate themselves while Lyn muddles along below. Here’s to looking up!