Falling in Love with Springfield Estate
“What’s the trick? There is no trick – that’s just the trick.”
Set in the heart of the mountain-ringed Robertson Valley in the Western Cape of South Africa, lies Springfield Estate. This is a family-run wine farm owned by ninth-generation descendants of French Huguenots, who came to South Africa from the Loire in 1688 with bundles of vines under their arms.
Wine farm or family home, most of our favourite producers are both.
The farm has been in the family since 1898 and today, using a combination of sometimes risky winemaking techniques, traditional methods and modern technology, along with a sense of practicality and dogged determination born from living off the land all their lives, the Bruwer family is able to handcraft wine true to its motto: Made on Honour. It’s this incredible heritage that makes Springfield one of South Africa’s most loved family brands in the wine industry – having provided their hallmark naturally produced wines to the market for an astonishing number of years!
When the lockdown in RSA lifted, the love and demand for Springfield Estate was abundantly clear in their warehouse – requiring 12hr days to make deliveries countrywide!
The philosophy of the Bruwer family is to produce wines as naturally as possible from their rocky, unforgiving, and oftentimes downright hostile terroir. Extremely appropriate runs the name of their Sauvignon Blanc, as ‘Life from Stone’ would appear the modus operandi on this farm.
Natural winemaking is a mentality that is fast growing in the world’s wine industries, where a return to our roots, pun intended, is leading to a fine appreciation for natural processes and thereby more authentic results that this belief system encapsulates. It’s honest winemaking, with little to hide behind, and no artificial tricks to help along the process. This no nonsense approach is exceptionally endearing; the website proudly notes that “one can use all sorts of fancy machines to tell us how much water is in the soil, but at the end of the day you need to look at the vine, see if it is under stress, and act accordingly”. They’d rather fix things in the farm; such is their proud tradition of 9 generations tilling the soil. To the Bruwer family, cellar work such as it is, in their iconic 1902 building, is a custodianship role: tell the story of the farm. They also note (and most of us in the industry will agree) that “good wine is grown, not made”. It is this rootstock – the people, not the vines – that makes Under the Influence, our big brother company, and thereby The Together Store extremely proud new partners of Springfield Estate.
Pictured here is some of their winery team putting down the latest vintage of Work of Time to rest and mature for the next four years. The cellar behind, is itself is a relic of time - a twin to the one where they make their wines, both built in the early 1900s.
It would appear to be somewhat unsurprising then, that a family with ancient ties to this ancient land, are seemingly in no rush to produce or release their wines before their time, either. Most of their wines are fermented using the naturally occurring, wild yeasts found on the grapes themselves as well as lingering in the cellar from harvests past. This is a volatile process which can takes months and is nigh impossible to guide and control. Iconic South African winemaker David Nieuwoudt of Cederberg and Ghost Corner once described his 30 barrels of Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc as not dissimilar to managing a nursery school – 30 screaming children at different stages of development all requiring constant care and attention, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, until the ideal level of fermentation is achieved, which can be drastically different timelines from barrel to barrel! After this process is completed, the wines are bottled, unfined and unfiltered: natural. Then, like all good wines, they are graciously provided a gift, one they eloquently describe as ‘The Work of Time’ – up to two years in barrel, and up to four years in bottle if necessary; but never, ever, before they’re ready.
As we like to mention here at The Together Store, a wine estate is more than just the liquid in a bottle, it’s the sum totality of ‘Who they are’. Which is why, we also proudly note, and raise our glasses to Thunderchild. In 2003 a 5 hectare vineyard was planted at nearby Die Herberg Orphanage by the Robertson Valley community – the same community that built the orphanage in 1918. All planting material, soil preparation and irrigation were donated. This blend is made for free by sympathetic cellars and sold in aid of the children, who today are no longer all orphans but mainly from broken homes. 100% of the grapes for this blend is grown on the orphanage’s grounds and 100% of the profit is donated to the children. Only true audited costs are remunerated, time and effort cannot be recompensed.
This classical blend was created by using the ancient technique of fermenting uncrushed berries with native yeast from the grapes. After ageing for one year in French barrels, it was bottled without finings or filtration. A further 12 months bottle ageing took place prior to release. The blend consists of: 35% Cabernet Franc, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot.
It is for these reasons, amongst many, that we’re proud to introduce Springfield to The Together Store. It is their ethos, their commitment to excellence, their commitment to the community in which they live that makes them the perfect wine for your end of year celebrations!