20 Dec A Year in Review at Fairview : 2019
With less than two weeks to go, we’ve reached the final stretch of 2019! Normality just isn’t something that we do here and thus any given year on the farm will always be filled with its own set of challenges, problems and innovative ways to overcome them. Never a dull moment, as the cliché goes. 2019 however was an especially interesting and, dare I say it, groundbreaking year for Fairview. So, whilst you take a break from packing for your impending holiday, are sitting behind your device at the office or are scrolling at home while sipping on a glass of Fairview wine, allow me to share with you some of my highlights of the past year and a peek at what’s to come in 2020!
Starting off with a rather recent happening, one of the biggest highlights of the year took place a mere few weeks ago! 4 November 2019 marked another addition to the Fairview family with opening of our second BACK’s restaurant right in the heart of Stellenbosch. The restaurant is situated in the historic Oude Bank building on the corner of Bird St and Church St. When I walk into the new shop, I’m immediately filled with a sense of pride. To be able to provide an offering of our very own Fairview Free Range Lamb, Beef and Pork, freshly baked breads and confectionaries, a wide range of our wines, stretching across multiple appellations (like Piekenierskloof, Swartland, Stellenbosch, Darling and Paarl) at cellar door prices, a selection of Fairview Cheeses and a host of Deli products all in the centre of Stellenbosch, is an immense achievement in itself! With an offering as vast as we’ve got I know we will be a hit with locals and tourists alike. A huge word of thanks to my nephew and co-owner, Raph Bak, and my long time friend Shannon Riley for bringing their expertise to the Stellenbosch branch. May 2020 be a wonderfully successful year for both Back’s Paarl and Stellenbosch! My dream of being a butcher, baker, cheese and wine maker has finally fully realised.
Sticking to the hospitality theme, we partnered up with FC Conradie of Caylix Business Solutions earlier this year, in taking over the operations of the restaurant and halfway house at the Paarl Golf Club on the Boschenmeer Golf Estate. Whilst we supply the newly opened The Golfing Goat with wine, meat and bread, FC brings, amongst many other things, tons of experience in the form of customer service from his time in the convenience and fuel retail industry. I predict a bright future for this newly formed partnership!
Fairview cheese continues to grow from strength to strength! Whilst we released a number of new cheeses this year, the specially produced roulades making up the bulk of the new releases, we’ve also looked to the past for inspiration. This has resulted in the decision to bring back a classic… the La Beryl! A former fan favourite, the La Beryl is a washed rind cheese made in the classic Munster or Pont l’e Veque style. We’re looking to launch the first batch in the Tasting Room this festive season and would love to get your opinion.
Contrary to popular belief, I remain a farmer first and foremost and 2019 has seen a number of developments on the agricultural side of things here on the farm. Building on the success of 2018, our 2019 wheat harvest delivered another substantial yield. We again had the privilege of producing the required volumes of our very own flour to use in both our bakery and the restaurants completing the full circle of production. As for the animals, our livestock numbers are also growing slowly, but only as fast as we can produce our own top quality, highly nutritious fodder. This will be helped along in 2020 by the recent purchase of a centre pivot irrigation system for our lucern fields! A first for Fairview! Once the irrigation system is up and running and we can consistently produce a larger volume of fodder, we plan on increasing the size of our goat herd due to the rising demand for goats’ milk in cheese production and as a cows’ milk alternative. If all things go well, more Goats are set to Roam!
Now, there was one final topic I wanted to discuss, but for the life of me I can’t seem to remember what that was…
AH, of course, WINE!
Looking at the vineyards, we are quietly optimistic! Although the rainy season produced less rain on the farm than in 2018, the water table, ground water and underground water sources levels have increased thanks to the late rains and the levels of the dams in the Western Cape. We are seeing encouraging development in the bunches that have formed on the vines and are optimistically excited for the 2020 harvest.
Rosa Kruger has once again been a massive asset to the Fairview Winery this year as a viticultural consultant, especially in terms of old vine wines. Rosa, the founder of the Old Vine Project, has helped us nurture our own old vines as well as in finding exceptional old vine fruit for some of our special bottlings. Special mention has to be made of our certified Old Vine, Bloemcool Ploegperd 2018! This fantastic blend of Palomino, Chenin Blanc and Grenache Blanc was without a doubt one of my favourite wines of the year and garnered critical acclaim being awarded a 95/100 by winemag.co.za. We have a few new Bloemcool bottlings arriving early 2020 with one or two also having been tended by Rosa’s hand. Thank you Rosa for your passion and dedication and for the years of friendship we’ve been privileged to share with you.
As for new plantings, we have continued to introduce Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir in our vineyards as we’ve found that it is perfectly suited to the conditions on the farm. As well as being a fantastic blending component, these varieties have also shown well when bottled on their own as seen in our fan favourite “The Grenaches” range. The 2019 vintage of both the Grenache Blanc and Grenache Noir was recently released and has become my go to when looking for an everyday drinking wine. I’m currently toying with the idea of adding a Brut to the Grenaches range, but more on that as the story unfolds. Another recent release is our brand new Vinho Verde style Verdelho. The grapes were picked not fully ripened to trap the natural freshness of the fruit. As the acidity is still very high, we let the wine undergo malolactic fermentation to break down the acidity. Eventually you are left with a dry, crisp crisp,and refreshing wine with a slight pettilant fizz, perfect for the South African summer!
In terms of my own (excessive) consumption, I’ve seen a slight change in my preference this year. More often than not I find myself opting for a lighter style of both red and white wines. More interesting still, I seem to be developing a growing affinity for a more natural style of wine with lower levels of SO2. Wines like our newly released Bloemcool Kaal and Voet, that are exposed to longer stem and skin contact, and made using minimal intervention and little to no additives really have had an immense effect on my preference. This could be because you wake up completely clear, bushy tailed and starry eyed even when having the whole bottle, but I can’t be sure…that being said, if you are planning on having a big new years, I’d advise you to go natural 🙂
One final thing I’d like to say before I go is THANK YOU. Thank you to each of you who have bought Fairview products, visited the farm, ate in our restaurants, attended one of our Goatshed events or shared a kind word about Fairview with another. Your role in our existence is inexplicable and I wish I could thank all of you personally.
That’s it from me for 2019! If you’re around the Winelands this festive season, be sure to pop in and say hi. As for the rest of you travel safe, enjoy this special time of the year and for goats sake, be sure to drink (Fairview wine) responsibly please!
TO LIFE…and love