South Africa, Other

Established 1916

Our family history in South Africa starts back at the beginning of the last century when my grandfather arrived at the shores of Cape Town as a penniless political and religious refugee from Lithuania. Graduating from working as a dockhand on the reclamation program around what today is the Waterfront, he started as a bicycle delivery “boy”, and finally bought a butcher shop at Paarl train station. The story goes that one morning someone arrived at the shop and asked if he would be interested in buying a farm. Mr. C.L. Back thought this an excellent idea and sold the butchers shop to purchase what is today known as Backsberg Estate Cellars. Farming activities in those days were mixed; some grain, some live stock, some fruit and in time, some wine grapes. Once wine making started in the early 20’s the wine was sold either to the KWV, or in bulk to destinations like England. Should you visit the cellars you will see pictures of my grandfather and father standing proudly at Cape Town harbour loading tankers of wine for shipment to France where there was a shortage of wine after the 2nd World War. My father Sydney (spelled with a “Y” as he was always determined to make people understand) joined his father in 1936. Time and pressure allowed for no further education beyond Matric. Despite the lack of education, he certainly had inherent wine making skills and was awarded the Jan Smuts Trophy for overall performance at the SA Young Wine Show very early in his career.