Charles Back was a Jewish immigrant from Lithuanian, who arrived in South Africa in 1902. Charles was illiterate and virtually penniless, but he was a hard worker who had a passion for wine and built up a successful wine export business. The Fairview farm was established in 1693, when it was granted to a first settler called Francois Hugo. At that time the property was named Bloemkoolfontein, and the first wine was made there in 1699 making it one of South Africa's original wine estates. In 1937 Charles Back acquired Fairview which is located in Paarl, at the foot of Paarl's distinctive granite domed mountain. Charles died in 1955 and bequeathed a wine farm to each of his two sons; Sidney received Backsberg, and Cyril received Fairview. Cyril and his wife Beryl bottled their own wine for the first time in 1974, and initiated the Cape's first public wine auction as a means to sell their neophyte wines. Their son, Charles 2, completed his oenological training at Elsenburg [the Cape's eminent Agricultural Training Institute], and joined his parents in 1978, taking over full responsibility on his father's death in 1995. This Charles had a different way of doing things and introduced Mediterranean grape varieties to the farm – now Viognier, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Petite Syrah were being cultivated in the Cape. The Fairview philosophy is driven by three main pillars; being honest, honouring their heritage and ensuring that ingenuity perpetually flows from their soils and cellars. Since 2010 they have carried the Integrity and sustainability seal that certifies their farming production is done in an environmentally friendly way, and they are members of the Integrated Production of Wine and Biodiversity in Wine initiatives. In the 1980's Charles 2 abandoned the concept of estate wine, choosing instead to go where the terroir was, and their vineyards are located on four separate sites.
In Paarl 350 hectares under vine on decomposed granite soils, planted with Shiraz, Grenache, Petite Syrah, Viognier, and Pinotage including some old bushvine Pinotage.
Darling has 140 hectares planted on deep red Oakleaf soils with Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, Chenin, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
In Swartland 155 hectares of bushvine vineyards are dominated by deep ferric Oakleaf soils with pockets of shale and Koffieklip, planted with Shiraz, Carignan, Grenache, Tannat, Mourvedre, Petite Syrah, Viognier and Chenin.
Stellenbosch has 35 hectares planted with the Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc on predominately Koffieklip soils.
This spectacular array of different grape varieties, terroirs and climates allows for a superb portfolio of wines to be produced, which cover the whole spectrum of wines styles and price points, from easy-drinking to serious ageworthy wines. In 1996 Charles 2 was voted the second most influential person in the South African wine industry - after Nelson Mandela! Following this up in 2014 with the prestigious IWC Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2107 he became the most awarded winemaker in South Africa.