SUSTAINABLY FARMED

Leaders in sustainability

     Read more by expanding each section     

VITICULTURE

The estate boasts 80 hectares under vine on the Klein Babylonstoren property with additional satellite vineyards in two neighbouring areas. The estate’s primary vineyard blocks are located high-up along the slopes of the iconic Simonsberg Mountain.

We are blessed with a wonderful temperate, Meditteranean climate - mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers - with soils consisting of predominantly weathered granite and clay loam. These soils are rich in organic matter.

The key to producing high-quality fruit lies in the word ‘balance’. This word must apply to every viticultural decision made from site-selection to style of trellis, canopy management and irrigation. All this ensures happy, healthy vines.

For the most part, we make use of the Lyre trellising system. This system allows for greater air circulation, maximum sun exposure and greater canopy space which enables superior yields on the same hectare of land. There is less driving up and down between the rows which in turn leads to lower fuel usage and less soil compaction. This is paired with drip irrigation, hand-picking and a team of well-skilled individuals.

For the most part, we make use of the Lyre trellising system. This system allows for greater air circulation, maximum sun exposure and greater canopy space which enables superior yields on the same hectare of land. There is less driving up and down between the rows which in turn leads to lower fuel usage and less soil compaction. This is paired with drip irrigation, hand-picking and a team of well-skilled individuals.

The key to producing high-quality fruit lies in the word ‘balance’. This word must apply to every viticultural decision made from site-selection to style of trellis, canopy management and irrigation. All this ensures happy, healthy vines.

WINEMAKING

“Making fine wines an everyday pleasure.”

OUR WINEMAKER:
ALICIA RECHNER

Of course, we would be unable to achieve this seamless balance without a key individual, Alicia Rechner – Backsberg’s head winemaker and master brandy distiller.

Alicia first entered the Backsberg cellar doors in 2002 and even after several years at the estate, she notes that each and every harvest is something special. She terms herself “a technical winemaker who prefers the chemistry to be spot on”. Her style is simple and logical.

WINEMAKING
PHILOSOPHY

Backsberg’s winemaking philosophy can be expressed simply: we aim to provide enjoyment in each and every glass. Emphasis is placed on soil health and gentle handling of the grapes to retain the specific fruit character of each cultivar. For us, the true test of whether or not we have met market demand lies in the word ‘drinkability’. Our wines are seamlessly integrated – tannins, acids, alcohol, sweetness and oak maturation all come together in perfect harmony.

WINEMAKING
PHILOSOPHY

Backsberg’s winemaking philosophy can be expressed simply: we aim to provide enjoyment in each and every glass. Emphasis is placed on soil health and gentle handling of the grapes to retain the specific fruit character of each cultivar. For us, the true test of whether or not we have met market demand lies in the word ‘drinkability’. Our wines are seamlessly integrated – tannins, acids, alcohol, sweetness and oak maturation all come together in perfect harmony.

OUR WINEMAKER:
ALICIA RECHNER

Of course, we would be unable to achieve this seamless balance without a key individual, Alicia Rechner – Backsberg’s head winemaker and master brandy distiller.

Alicia first entered the Backsberg cellar doors in 2002 and even after several years at the estate, she notes that each and every harvest is something special. She terms herself “a technical winemaker who prefers the chemistry to be spot on”. Her style is simple and logical.

She has trained her staff well and all quietly go about the business of winemaking in a diligent, planned and organised fashion.

SA’S FIRST CARBON-NEUTRAL WINERY

01

ENERGY

  • Our focus to date has been on the saving of energy across all departments.
  • The most successful has been the introduction of the Lyre trellis system which has brought down driving kilometres per hectare by 35% while at the same time allowing for increased running meters of canopy.
  • Other initiatives include: painting of roofs and increasing roof insulation
  • There has been a significant focus on the use of the smallest of tractors and utility vehicles.
  • Our attention has now turned to energy generation with PV cells and biomass combustion.

02

WATER

  • 2018 saw the completion of a major pipeline and pump installation to ensure that all run-off water is captured and directed into one of our several dams.
  • Mulch is applied regularly to the vineyards to improve not only soil health but water holding capacity.
  • All irrigation water applied is measured and monitored
    so as to neither over irrigate nor under irrigate.

03

BIOMASS

  • Over the last 10 years, Backsberg has engaged in the planting of thousands of trees. Trees abound on almost every corner of the farm and we have increased the biomass stand on the property substantially.
  • We are now in a position to use some of the timber to make our own vineyard poles, extend the mulching program and to use this timber in construction.

04

BIODIVERSITY

  • Support for biodiversity is crucial in a mono-crop environment.
  • To this end we have two conservation areas and have created fynbos corridors for wildlife so that they can migrate freely.
  • We have created small puddles or wetlands to improve birdlife.
  • We have also planted certain types of trees and shrubs to host and encourage the bee population.

05

AUDITING

  • A regular carbon audit is undertaken voluntarily and conducted by an independent third-party, Promethium Carbon, who specialise in the field.
  • The windows of the audit are from the gate of our suppliers, through our processes and onto the gate of our clients.

06

INNOVATION

  • We recently started a vineyard biomass development trial.
  • The launch of a certified organic Malbec block will take place this year in 2020 and will be certified via Lacon Institute.
  • We are in the process of Vegan certifying the Tread Lightly range (2021).
  • In 2018, we planted drought-resistant Marselan vines with the first commercial harvest expected for 2022.

“Care for the environment means care and concern for succeeding generations.”
- Michael Back

  • In 2019, we engaged in a high-density vine trial.
    This is paired with the use of ultraviolet light technology to control mildew with the first commercial harvest expected for 2020.
  • We run a queen bee pollination programme as well as a mulching programme.
  • We are looking into the implementation of a biofuel generator that will run on grape and plant waste, moving the winery off the national electricity grid.

“As custodians of the land, it is our duty to understand and recognise potential threats, and to mitigate against them for the benefit of the next generation.”
- Michael Back

We are also engaged in collaborative activities with the Stellenbosch University. These activities include:

  • a windbreak trial;
  • eucalyptus species/density and coppicing trials;
  • and investigating the long-term impact of the use of cellar effluent water for vineyard irrigation.