The Back family history in South Africa commenced at the start of the last century, when C.L. Back arrived in
Cape Town, as a penniless political and religious refugee from Lithuania. After graduating from working as a
dockhand, C.L. became a bicycle delivery ‘boy’. This was until he had saved up enough money to purchase a
butcher shop in Paarl. As legend has it, an individual approached him in the shop and inquired about his interest
in buying a farm. This inquiry resulted in C.L. selling the butcher shop and acquiring the farm Klein Babylonstoren
In the beginning, the farm’s crops consisted of mainly grain, livestock, fruit, and a few wine grapes. By the early
20’s, wines were sold externally to KWV, or in bulk to destinations such as England. Sydney joined his father in
the business in 1936. Time and financial and work pressures allowed for no education beyond ‘matric’.
However, despite the lack of education, Sydney had an inherent winemaking ability. Very early on in his career,
he was awarded the Jan Smuts Trophy for overall performance at the SA Young Wine Show.
Over the years Sydney focused intensely on the wine side of the business, but with large volumes of low priced
wines being produced, he was quickly squeezed out of the business by bigger industry players. In 1969 Sydney
was offered, and accepted, the opportunity to sell the brand name in use at the time, Back’s Wines. This didn’t
deter the Back family and their persistent winemaking spirit.
In 1970 the cellar, operating under a new name, Backsberg, was opened to the public. In those days if the farm
sold a couple cases of wine in a day, the team was grateful. In 1976 Sydney’s son, Michael, a Viticulture and
Oenology graduate from Stellenbosch University, took over greater responsibility on the farm. Well-known
for challenging conventions in terms of environmental action and social responsibility, in 2015 Michael was
awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the environment, ethical practices, sustainability
In 2008, Michael’s son, Simon, a Business Science Economics graduate from UCT, joined the family business,
assuming marketing leadership. Today, Michael has handed over the reins of the family business to Simon
entirely. Celebrating four generations of family ownership and over 100 years of quality winemaking, Backsberg
Estate Cellars, as it is now known, continues to thrive by honouring its past and, simultaneously striving ahead
with forward-thinking holistic practices.
The Backsberg Philosophy
Backsberg’s philosophy is to provide pleasure and enjoyment to a broad range of wine lovers by producing wines
not only with structure and finesse, but also with a high level of “drinkability”. To put it simply, if you find the
wines easy to drink then Backsberg has achieved its goal.
This philosophy has to exist under an overall umbrella of ‘Care’. Care for our land, our product and the people
who work for us - and care for the environment in which we find ourselves.
Backsberg takes pride in using as little intervention as possible when approaching winemaking processes. In
other words, if we were unable to get it right in the vineyards, we will not be able to get it right in the cellar.
Each bottle of wine incorporates the rich, lively fruit of our Paarl region and we produce wines with harmonising
flavours and a high level of drinkability. Winemaker Alicia Rechner makes the decision while the grapes are still
on the vine as to when to pick and how to handle the grapes. Thus, she is able to ensure “faultless” wines are