Wine Industry Salutes Spatz Sperling
The annual 1659 medal for lifetime achievement has been bestowed on octogenarian Spatz Sperling, owner of Delheim wine estate, at the “Blessing of the Harvest” ceremony held at Groot Constantia on 2 February 2012.
To qualify for this award, the recipient must have made a significant, positive and lasting contribution to the wine industry, with substantial evidence of a special legacy for future generations. Previous recipients have included such luminaries as Dr Anton Rupert, General Jan Smuts and Nelson Mandela.
Spatz arrived in Cape Town as a post-war refugee in 1951 with £10 in his pocket, invited by his aunt Deli to work on the farm then called Driesprong (now Delheim, “Deli’s home”). The farm was dedicated mainly to the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, but he soon saw potential in the few vineyards then existent. With his trademark grit and determination, he embarked on the complex business of making wine, making progress largely through trial and error.
One of his earlier attempts having been dubbed “dreck” by a forthright house guest, he redoubled his efforts and produced the wine now in its 50th year, called “Spatzendreck”, with its iconic pooping sparrow on the label. Having established himself as a serious winemaker, he embarked on a series of pioneering initiatives in the South African wine industry in the decades that followed. Some notable innovations, amongst many others, were:
-made the first wine marketing road trip through South Africa;
-initiated one of the first wine newsletters with news of the farm and the wines, painstakingly typed by hand, individually signed and sent to his loyal customers;
-founder member of the wine route concept in South Africa, laying down the foundation of today’s thriving wine tourism industry;
-established the food culture in the winelands by serving “vintner’s platters” to visitors;
-formed the Cape Estate Wine Producer’s Association to ensure the integrity of Cape wines;
-held the first wine auction in South Africa, which inspired today’s prestigious Nederburg Auction;
-originator of the Stellenbosch Food & Wine Festival;
-mentored many of today’s top South African winemakers.
This is just the latest of the many awards Spatz has received over the years for his invaluable contribution to South African winemaking and wine tourism, and the industry owes him an enormous debt of gratitude. His influence will continue to reverberate down the years, well into the future.
Categories: AWARDS, DELHEIM, NEWS | EVENTS