22 December 2010 by Robyn Campbell

The delicate taste of Thunder

A shining star in the South African wine firmament, Springfield wine estate in Robertson is a producer of astonishingly good wines.

Springfield’s winemaker Abrie Bruwer believes in making wine as naturally as possible, letting Mother Nature do her thing, so to speak.

Sometimes however, Mother Nature’s ‘thing’ is less than kind. Like the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 that left the town of Robertson with destitute and orphaned children.

By now, you’re surely wondering how Springfield, influenza, Robertson and orphans from nearly a century ago fit together.

The answer is Die Herberg Kinderhuis (children’s home), started in 1918, and still caring for Robertson’s less fortunate children, 92 years later.

Because of the care they receive at Die Herberg, over 120 kids, mainly from broken homes, of all races, from birth to 18 years of age, have a chance of a better life. State funding though, covers just 1/3rd of the costs needed to run the refuge.

Die Herberg’s 7 homesteads are located on several hectares. An old apricot orchard occupied much of the fertile site.

Local wine farmers and business people, aware of the viticultural potential of the orchard proposed replacing it with a vineyard to make wine that could be sold to raise funds for the home.

In 2003, Springfield assumed custodianship of the 5-ha vineyard, and planted Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines. All the materials, input costs, labour and marketing associated with producing the wine were donated free of charge.

The resultant maiden blend, released in October 2010, is called Thunderchild, a metaphor for the dark clouds that characterise the upbringing of the children, but also their lightening-like power to transcend suffering and hurt, and overcome life’s storms.

100% of the grapes used to produce the Thunderchild are from Die Herberg’s vineyard, and 100% of the profit from the wines sold goes to the upkeep of the children.

The Thunderchild, a blend of 37% Cabernet Franc, 37% Merlot, and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, was created using fermented uncrushed berries with native grape yeasts. After ageing for 1year in French Oak, it was bottled without finings or filtration, and aged for a further 12 months.

Exhibiting juicy fruit and firm tannins leading to a savoury finish, Thunderchild is drinkable immediately but will reach its peak when Die Herberg celebrates its centenary in 2020.

Thunderchild wine is distributed by Springfield estate, can be ordered online, and retails for R65.00 per bottle, ex-delivery costs.

Best of all, it’s not only the wine that will age well. Knowing they have a safe haven at Die Herberg, Robertson’s less fortunate children can leave the thunderclouds behind them.

So why not buy a case or 6, of Thunderchild. For once, cloudy wine is a good thing and the silver lining is free…

Category: Arts & Entertainment, Food & Wine

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