Wine is made in the vineyard, and requires a gentle hand to guide it.
The Spice Route cellar is in the heart of the Swartland region, near a town called Malmesbury. The first harvest to pass through the cellar was in 1998 and the first few vintages saw 400 to 500 tons of fruit arriving at the cellar during the months of February and March each year.
When Charles Back started the Spice Route wine journey, the farm did not have a cellar, so an old tobacco drying shed was converted into a fermentation and maturation cellar, adapted to the type style of winemaking required to handle Swartland fruit with care.
Open top concrete “kuipe” fermenters were built to ferment the red wines, respecting the generosity of the fruit and preserving elegance and freshness at all cost.
Most of the wines are sent to seasoned oak barrels for malolactic fermentation and maturation, a fastidious but necessary process to sculpt each wine.
The flagship of the winery, Malabar and the Single Vineyard wines, are produced in a separate, dedicated cellar. Fruit is heavily sorted in the vineyard and then hand sorted over sorting tables in the cellar, with only the finest berries selected. These small parcels are handcrafted and receive carefully considered oaking.
Spice Route Winery’s name reflects what the vineyard, the wines and the people are all about. It recalls the ancient mariners of the 15th century braving the tempestuous waters of the ‘Cape of Storms’ as they plied their trade bringing exotic Eastern spices to Western Europe along the so-called ‘Spice Route’. (The view of Table Mountain from the Spice Route vineyards takes the imagination back to the scene which would have greeted those bygone sailors as they rounded the Cape Peninsula). In much the same way Charles Back went sailing into largely uncharted waters on his route to realising the viticultural potential of this part of the Swartland wine region. His venture’s name is equally evocative of the style of wines being made: rich, complex yet infinitely enjoyable, with ripe fruit of the finest quality skilfully enhanced through careful oaking… much as carefully selected spices bring out the flavours in a dish.