#EllisSupportsSA: Backsberg Estate Cellars

Simon & Michael Back, Backsberg Estate
Simon & Michael Back, Backsberg Estate

As a result of the crippling ban on domestic sales, we are supporting the South African wine industry with our #EllisSupportsSA campaign. Now, more than ever, we need to #DrinkSouthAfrican, so for every 6 bottles sold from any of our five family-owned wineries, we will be donating £1 to Hospitality Action, the UK charity which supports thousands of people in the sector in these challenging times. Read more about what we are doing here

Here, we introduce you to the second of our five wonderful producers: Backsberg Estate Cellars.

Founded in 1916, this wonderful estate is located below ‘The Little Tower of Babylon’ on the steep hillside vineyards in Paarl. This prominent producer has been at the forefront of quality wine production for many years. Currently under the stewardship of fourth generation Simon Back, who joined his father, Michael Back at the farm in 2008. They are making considerable waves in the international market. Michael Back wholeheartedly believes in sustainability and they were the first South African winery to achieve carbon neutral status. They constantly strive to produce the highest quality grapes using natural and organic principles. Alicia Rechner is back at the helm as winemaker and is well supported by viticulturalist Clive Trent.


Simon Back on Sustainability

“My team will tell you that I often describe Backsberg as a complex machine with a lot of moving parts. Our sustainability initiatives are a good illustration of this. While our philosophy is broad, it is detailed. Most notably, we are recognised as South Africa’s first certified carbon neutral winery, which we achieved after years of research and application of methods to reduce and offset our emissions. To mention just a few, these have included switching to energy efficient lighting, downscaling to smaller tractors and vehicles, bottling in lightweight glass bottles and planting thousands of trees. We are in the midst of a five-year biofuel project, which we hope will get Backsberg off the grid entirely - watch this space.

Carbon neutrality, however, is only one part of the equation. For us, sustainability means operating under what we call an umbrella of care: care for the environment, for our product and for the people who work for us. South Africa unfortunately has a troubled socio-political past and this is something my family has always acknowledged. During the Apartheid years, my father ran a night school, which was illegal under the prevailing regime. This was some time ago, but we did not lose speed after democracy dawned in 1994. Since then, we have funded over 100 years of tertiary education for underprivileged students, some of them the children of our workers. We have also assisted many of our farm workers in obtaining the deeds to their homes, effectively freeing them from dependence on our winery.

Backsberg is also a certified WWF Conservation Champion. Our environmental initiatives include setting aside a portion of our land to protect the endangered fynbos biome, an insect predator programme to reduce the need for chemical sprays and a queen bee project to protect the local bee population and promote pollination. While all of our wines are not certified organic, we share much of the philosophy and methodology with this movement. At times it can be frustrating to be on the frontier of sustainable practices, especially when certification bodies have not yet caught up! Regardless, we remain committed to doing what we believe is right.

Ultimately, our goal at Backsberg is to produce wines which are first and foremost delicious, while leaving our land, people and community better off than before. We hope, too, that our commitment to sustainability can inspire others to do the same.”

Simon Back CEO, Backsberg

The following wines we have from this fantastic producer are:

Chenin Blanc Backsberg 2019 £7.40

Sauvignon Blanc Backsberg 2019 £8.50

Chardonnay Backsberg 2019 £9.95

Viognier Backsberg Hillside 2018 £14.50

Backsberg `Family Reserve` White 2017 £18.50

Pinotage Backsberg 2018 £8.95

Merlot Backsberg 2018 £9.95

Cabernet Sauvignon Backsberg 2017 £10.50

Shiraz Backsberg Pumphouse 2017 £12.95

Backsberg `Family Reserve` Red 2015 £19.50

Tread Lightly Sauvignon Blanc, Backsberg 2019 £8.45

Tread Lightly Pinotage, Backsberg 2017 £8.95

To order:

Call us on 020 8744 5550, we are open Monday - Friday 9.00am – 4.00pm or you can email us anytime on orders@ellis-wines.co.uk.

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