Fairview Wine Estate, located in the Cape Winelands near Paarl, South Africa, has a long and storied history that’s all about goats, wine and cheese! Back in 1974, Fairview Wine started bottling, and since then, they’ve been growing their collection. As you explore their wines, you’ll notice they stay true to classics like Shiraz and Pinotage but also introduce new favorites like Chenin Blanc and Viognier.
The start of Fairview Wine Estate…
In 1902, Charles Back I, an immigrant from Lithuania, arrived in this land. With hard work and a love for wine, he built a successful wine export business before passing away in 1955. He left a wine farm for each of his two sons. Cyril Back received Fairview and, with his wife Beryl, started bottling their own wine in 1974. In 1995, their son, Charles Back II, took over the farm and introduced new grape varieties and artisanal cheese production.
Fairview Wine Estate isn’t just about wine, though. The estate also crafts artisanal cheeses that are just as famous and tasty. In the beginning, Charles Back, along with his father, attempted cheese-making with a French book they couldn’t understand, resulting in comical mishaps. Later, inspired by rich goats’ milk cheeses in France, Cyril and Beryl dreamt of South Africa’s first goats’ milk cheesery. Despite some challenges, Fairview’s cheesery eventually took shape. Initially a tough sell, goats’ milk cheese gained popularity over time, prompting herd and cheese range expansion. In 1995, the Vineyard Cheesery made significant strides, welcoming head cheesemaker Louis Lourens and introducing Jersey cows’ milk cheese.
Using a mix of traditional techniques and innovation, they’ve created a great variety. Whether you enjoy creamy Brie, tangy Goat’s cheese, or rich aged options, Fairview has a bunch of delicious cheeses for you to try!
So, what’s with the Goat Tower?
Let me share with you the charming tale of the Goat Tower. Back in the early ’80s, Charles went on a Portugal adventure. His mission? Checking out the cork industry, a big deal in a country producing half the world’s cork. During his travels, he explored Sogrape Vinhos, the home of Mateus – a delightful frizzante rosé. After the tour, he took a breather in an old garden and, boom, inspiration struck! Right there, in the heart of the garden, he spotted the original tower. Excited, he sketched the idea for the Goat Tower, shared it with his dad Cyril (who thought Charles was a bit mad, as usual), but saw the potential. Fast forward a few months, and voila – the iconic Goat Tower was born. Ask Charles why it’s a hit, and he’ll tell you, “because people like seeing animals have fun.”
How the goats became Fairview’s Vineyard Stars
Legend has it that a few adventurous goats from Fairview’s long-standing herd made a great escape into the vineyards when young Jason Back forgot to close the gate. These clever goats happily feasted on the ripest berries, inspiring the creation of the Goats Do Roam wine. With a delightful taste and excellent quality, the Goats Do Roam collection blends southern French and Italian styles, offering complexity at pocket-friendly prices.
Wine Tasting at Fairview Estate
This winery is set up for any size group, whether you plan ahead or show up on a whim. They’ve got a cool “bar concept” with tasting spots shaped like wine barrels. The host stands in the middle, and tasters can gather around the outside.
All wine tastings include pairings with cheese. We went for the standard tasting of 6 wines and 6 cheeses. At only $4 (R75) a person, it’s a deal that will be hard to find anywhere else in the area. Plus, as a bonus, you get a 7th dessert wine and cheese to wrap up the whole experience.
Looking for more things to do at Fairview Wine Estate?
If you’re still craving more after enjoying all that cheese, don’t worry – Fairview Wine Estate has a restaurant called The Goatshed. Their philosophy revolves around using locally sourced produce with minimal waste. You’ll find plenty of cheese, bread, and comforting farm-style dishes on their menu.
The deli, located in the same building as the tasting room, sells a great selection of products – from cheeses, to preserves and artisinal breads. So, be sure to browse their shop before leaving.
Join a tour with Farmer Donald for an educational Fairview experience. There are three tours available: A goat farm tour + cheese and wine tasting, goat farm tour + snacks and a guided mountain walk. It’s both a fun way to learn more about the farm and to enjoy everything on offer!
To sum it up
Fairview Wine Estate is one of my favorite spots in the Cape Winelands. I’ve visited more than once because of its welcoming, relaxed vibe and the awesome combo of tasty cheese and wine. And let’s not forget the goats – they guarantee you leave Fairview with a smile!