Charles was born in Paarl, on the Fairview estate which his family has owned since 1937. He was raised on the farm and attended school at Paarl Gymnasium, where he was one of the few English speaking boys at an Afrikaans school! After completing school, Charles attended Elsenburg Agricultural College in Stellenbosch, where he completed his qualification in Oenology and Viticulture.
After gaining his qualification, Charles returned to Fairview in 1978 but was shown no special treatment by his father. He worked on the farm as any other labourer, and through this learnt a real appreciation for the land and earned the respect of the Fairview workers. He maintains that hands-on approach to the wine industry today, and his energy and inventiveness remain the driving force behind both Fairview and Spice Route’s success.