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Backsberg Estate Cellars

Backsberg EstateCellars

While attending the informative session at the Embassy of the Republic of South Africa in Washington DC, we learned about tourism in South Africa, and also had the opportunity to taste some of the wines now produced in South Africa. One of the wineries represented was Backsberg Estate Cellars.

The winery produces four lines of wine: Black Label, Premium, Kosher and Tread Lightly.

We began with the Backsberg 2016 Brut Classique from the Paarl region of South Africa. This is a Kosher Brut. The wine is produced with 100% Chardonnay. According to the information card provided by the importer, the Kosher Brut included, “Prior to fermentation, the Chardonnay juice is pasteurized and all handling of the grapes and wine is performed by a rabbi with approval of the Cape  Town Beth Din. The MCC is made in the traditional method of a second fermentation in the bottle and is approved Mevushal/Kosher for Passover.” This sparkling wine was a light yellow color. The dry wine offered notes of apple with some freshly baked bread. The finish of the wine lingered. Food pairing suggestions included appetizers, entrées and desserts. Backsberg Estate Cellars suggests the Kosher Brut for bar mitzvah celebrations and weddings.

The Backsberg 2017 Premium Chenin Blanc was also from the Paarl, South Africa region. The wine is produced with 100% Chenin Blanc. The winery describes this wine as a “Very simple, natural wine.” The wine was a yellow color. The aroma had citrus and tropical fruit notes. The taste had lemon, pineapple, papaya and mineral. The finish was fruity yielding to mineral. For wine pairing the Backsberg winery notes that this Chenin Blanc is a very versatile wine and suggests that it is very good for most occasions. 

The Backsberg Estate Cellars 2016 Premium Pinotage  is from the Western Cape, South Africa. The wine is produced with 100% Pinotage. The wine has 14% alcohol. The color was a translucent ruby with a red hue. The aroma was of black fruit. The taste was reminiscent of black berries and cassis. This is a full bodied wine with medium tannins. The finish was fruity. The winery suggests this wine is very drinkable alone or to pair is with lamb dishes.

History of Backsberg Estate Cellars

Backsberg Estate Cellars goes back to 1902 when a very poor Lithuanian refugee landed in Cape Town. Back’s first work was as a bicylcle delivery person. Eventually he was able to buy a butcher shop. “Legend has it he was approached in the shop and asked about buying a farm. This resulted in his selling the butcher shop….” Early on the farm grew grain, fruit and livestock. Eventually grapes were added. In the beginning, wine was distributed in bulk or sold to KWV. It was Sydney Back who started the wine brand known as Back’s Wines in 1969. This was followed in 1970 by Backsberg. Later, Michael, a grandson, expanded the farm operation and then began concentrating on quality. Much later, in 2008, Michael’s son became the head of the Backsberg business. 

Notes of Special Interest

Backsberg  now has  Carbon Neutral status, receiving that recognition as the third winery in the world to receive this. 

Michael Back was the recipient of the Drinks Business Global Lifetime Achievement Award. This was for his work in supporting the environment, sustainability, ethical practices, and education. The Backsberg winery has worked in several areas to protect the environment including: dedicating land for non-development and preservation of “Fynbos” home to reduce the carbon footprint, following the Kyoto Protocol on Greenhouse Gas emissions, adding skylights to the winery, downsizing to the trucks and tractors and using lightweight glass bottles. 


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