by Malcolm Jolley

Charles Back started working at his family’s winery, Fairview, in 1978 after taking a few years learning about the wine business across the world. In the 80s, as South Africa’s political situation isolated it from much of the world, Back contemplated emigrating and making wine elsewhere, but in the end decided to stay on the family farm near Paarl and prepare Fairview for better times by making wines that would appeal to the international markets that might one day open up again. He was one of the first South Africans to plant and champion Rhone varietals like Shiraz (a.k.a. Syrah) and Viogner, and after 1994 his gamble paid off and, through popular labels like Goats Do Roam, Back’s wines are sought after around the world

Ever the pioneer, Back has properties throughout the wine growing regions of South Africa, including Spice Route in the (now) very trendy Swartland and a newer project near Elim, where Atlantic winds make it the country’s coolest region. Back is also a strong advocate of Fair Trade wines, which he makes with his Six Hats line and is a strong believer in carbon neutrality. I spoke with him about all his and more in the video below.

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GFR videos are generously sponsored by a grant from Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company. Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. Photo: John Gundy.