“More American’s visited South Africa for the 2010 World Cup than any other nation”, says Anita Streicher, “and they all seemed to come to Fairview.” Anita is in charge of the Master Tasting room at Fairview wine farm, near Paarl, about 45 minutes drive from central Cape Town. “The World Cup also brought many Mexicans, but our usual visitors are Britons, Dutch, Germans and French.”
Fairview has grown from a small wine estate on the slopes of the Paarl Mountain to a major player and a must on the tourist route. Among locals Fairview is more famous for cheeses: its camembert won gold at the World Cheese Awards in France five years out of seven and Fairview keeps a large goat herd for their milk.
And you can’t get away from goats at Fairview. At its entrance is the tall Goat Tower, built of brick with a spiral walkway around the outside which is home to some of the herd. The Tower appears on many of Fairview’s wines and two of their ranges use goats in their titles.
Goats do Roam is the largest selling South African wine in the USA. It and its punningly named siblings, including Bored Doe and the Goatfather blends are made at the winery, as is a new range of 100% varietal wines called La Capra, which is Latin for goat.
Visitors find a wine and cheese tasting experience, a large cheese shop and a restaurant delicatessen, The Goatshed, with its own bakery.
And it is certain they’ll find a wine to enjoy. Currently Fairview make around fifty-five different wines under four brands, La Capra, Goats do Roam, Fairview and Spice Route. Prices range from bargain up to serious money.
In the tasting hall, next to the barrel cellar, you stand at large circular counters. But I recommend paying extra for the Master Tasting, which takes place in a separate room at the rear of the tasting hall.
Anita Streicher welcomes you to the Fairview Master Tasting room
Here you are seated at tables, given bottles of spring water and individual cheese trays. You choose the tasting you are interested in, maybe the unusual varieties, comparing shirazes from different vineyards, wines that match specific cheeses or a general introduction to Fairview wines. There is no rush and you receive individual personal attention from Anita and her team.
There is no pressure to buy but you can order wines in the tasting room for home delivery, without paying international transport fees if you live in the USA or UK, as Fairview have their own warehouse in California and partners in Britain.
Charles Back, the third generation making wine at Fairview, is an innovator who plants varieties new to the Cape while championing small ancient vineyards he has discovered.
There’s always something new at Fairview and that’s the reason people keep returning.
Fairview website: www.fairview.co.za
- Shiraz is a speciality, I thought the standard Fairview bottling offered the best QPR but the top ‘Cyril Back’ barrel selection is something special.
- Pinotage: The standard Fairview bottling 2009 vintage surprised many by winning in the 2010 Pinotage Top 10 Competition against more expensive labels, and the Spice Route bottling is worth aging.
- Petite Sirah: Fairview are the first and only South African winery to grow and make this variety and it shows great promise.
- Viognier: We fell in love with this sweet wine and had a case shipped home two years ago.
Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape. Now available as a Kindle eBook, click link on left
Disclosure: I visited Fairview at my own expense. I bought a case of wines to takeaway and placed a costly wine order for home delivery, all at full retail price and was not charged for my Master Tasting.