Spice Route was founded in 1998, a project originally conceived as a partnership between Charles Back, the owner of Fairview and the Goats du Rhône brand, Gyles Webb of Thelema, John Platter the wine writer, and Jabulani Ntshangase the manager of the wine centre at Spier. Now it is solely owned by Back. Spice Route started the renaissance of the Swartland, pioneering this coastal region about 65 kilometres north of Cape Town in the Western Cape of South Africa. The name of the winery reflects its philosophy, recalling the ancient mariners of times gone by who braved the tempestuous waters of the “Cape of Storms” to bring exotic eastern spices to the western world through a network of sea routes. In much the same way Charles Back went sailing into largely uncharted territory on his route to realising the potential of this desert like-region - which was kickstarted when Charles tasted a Sauvignon Blanc from a Swartland cooperative. He was so bowled over that he went to see the home of the vineyard, which turned out to have the oldest block of Sauvignon Blanc vines in South Africa, planted in 1965. The farm was called Klein Amoskuil. Charles bought it and the Spice Route journey began. They source fruit from their Klein Amoskuil farm and a few other nearby farms in the region. Around 100 hectares are under vine planted on deep ferricrete soils and all the vineyards are dryland farmed. The wines are made in their winery near Malmesbury where a range of flavourful white, rosé and red wines are produced. Their flagship wine is Malabar, which is only made in the best vintages from the best vineyards, a blend selected from the best barrels, no matter what the variety. The Spice Route wines are rich and complex, with ripe fruit skilfully enhanced by judicious oak treatment, which seasons the wine in much the same way as carefully chosen spices augment the flavour of a dish. These wines are eminently drinkable and terrific value.