Updated: Jan 2
The World renowned Stellenbosch Wine Route, founded in 1971, by three wine estates was the first of it's kind in South Africa and has become the Capital of the South African Wine Industry. Planning a trip to Stellenbosch?Make sure you visit the three founding Wine Estates!
The History of the Stellenbosch Wine Route
The Stellenbosch Wine Route was founded by three wine producers, Frans Malan (Simonsig Wine Estate), Spatz Sperling (Delheim) and Niel Joubert Spier Wine Estate).
In August of 1969, Frans Malan accompanied by his wife and friends were travelling in Europe. Their trip included famous wine routes , the German Weinstrasse and Du routes de Vin in France. While visiting the town of Morey St Denis, Burgundy, Frans had the excellent idea that Stellenbosch should have it's one wine route, strongly supported by Niel Joubert.
Returning from Europe with his new idea , Frans contacted wine estates in the Stellenbosch wine growing region. Spatz Sperling, from Delheim was thrilled and eager to get involved . Together Frans, Spatz and Niel worked hard to convince wineries to participate in the Stellenbosch Wine Route.
Sometimes greeted with scepticism from wine producers and little support from the bigger wine companies, they pursued their dream, to make the wine route a reality. They handed out maps, guiding tourist and university students to visit the participating wineries (17 wine estates). In 1971 their hard work paid off as the Stellenbosch Wine Route was founded.
The Stellenbosch Wine Route Today
Stellenbosch Wine Route is the predominant South African wine route with 150 members, producing wines of origin, Stellenbosch. It has been divided into 5 sub routes, each have their own characteristics in terms of prominent wine styles, climates and geographical location. They are Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley and Stellenbosch Berg.
The Founding Estates:
Patriarch of the Sperling Family, Micheal Hans "Spatz" Sperling, arrived from Germany in 1951, to work on his uncle's farm on the foothills of the Simonsberg mountain, just outside Stellenbosch.
The farm (De Drie Spring), produced a variety of products including a bit of wine. It was later renamed Delheim.
Spatz had no wine knowledge, but he became a student of travelling German wine experts who came to South Africa to teach the locals. Eager to learn, he absorbed as much wine knowledge as possible during the 1960s and perfected his wine making techniques by trail-and error. In 1976 Spatz, with the help of his Dutch-born wife, Vera, opened the Vintner’s Cheese Lunch Restaurant to cater to the arriving tourist, visiting the Stellenbosch Wine Route. In 2012 Spatz was awarded the prestigious Medal of Honour industry award for his life-long contribution to the South Africa Wine Industry.
Today Spatz and Vera's children, Victor and Nora continue their father's legacy, by ensuring that Delheim continuous to be one of South Africa's favourite wine estates.
They don't only produce great wines, but also support their local community and environment conservation projects. The wine estate is the founder of the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy, WIETA Accredited, IPW Accredited and a WWF Champion.
Delheim's new cupcake and wine pairing can be experienced in their cozy downstairs tasting room. These divine cupcakes with their distinctive fynbos flavours were all inspired by the indigenous vegetation. Fynbos is a distinctive vegetation only found on the Southern tip of Africa. The cupcake line-up: Fynbos honey cupcake paired with Delheim Merlot, Honeybush cupcake and Delheim Sur Lei Chardonnay, Buchu cupcake paired with Gewurztraminer andRooibos cupcake paired with Delheim Pinotage. My favourite was the Gewurztraminer paired with the Buchu cupcake.
The wine had citrus blossom, Turkish delight and lychee on the nose. The palate is fruity/ zesty and it pairs perfectly with the fresh crisp bite of the Buchu. Delheim also has a garden restaurant or a riverside picnic option, if you would like to join them for lunch.