Robertson, South Africa
See Springfield wines we sell
Set in the heart of the mountain-ringed Robertson Valley in South Africa's Western Cape Province, Springfield Estate is a vibrant, family-run wine farm. It is owned by the Bruwer family, fourth-generation wine farmers and ninth-generation descendants of the Bruères, French Huguenots who came to South Africa from the Loire in 1688.
The present owners of Springfield, brother-and-sister team Abrie and Jeanette Bruwer, are prepared to take risks to do what they love best – making wine. Assisted by a team of dedicated workers, many of whom have been with the Bruwers for decades, winemaker and viticulturist Abrie keeps a watchful eye on the vineyards and the wines. Jeanette co-ordinates the marketing and promotes Springfield both locally and abroad. Back on the estate she is involved hands-on in everything from preparing the soil for new plantings, to driving the fork-lift truck, if necessary.
Abrie Bruwer’s driving force is to produce the best wines he can. "I only want to sell wine I am proud of and I will only get a limited number of chances to do that in my lifetime". Abrie produces wines which reflect the unique soils, climate and character of each varietal.
The lime-rich soil on the estate ranges from extremely rocky to clay, with sandy soil next to the Breede River where vineyards are protected against floods by low dikes. The climate in this area can be harsh and extreme. The southeaster blows the ocean air in from the Atlantic over 100 km away and this produces variable summer temperatures of around 30 ºC during the day to 15 ºC and below at night. The lower lying vines, such as those in the Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, are prone to frost during the growing period and a low annual rainfall of around 200 mm means that controlled irrigation is essential to relieve grape stress. These conditions are ideal for keeping alive natural yeasts present on the grapes, and to ensure an abundance of organic material in the vineyards.
It has often been said that vines deliver best where they have to battle for survival. The ground at Springfield is so impermeable that it takes hard work and strong hands to plant the vines, put up trellising poles and work organic material back into the soil. The soil, like that in the prime regions of Burgundy and Sancerre, is high in lime. From vines grown in this soil come grapes that showcase fruit. Other vineyards on the clay banks of the Breede River that runs through the estate provide grapes with concentration. Blended, these grapes produce wines with structure and body.
Vineyard practices include site-specific planting of virus-free clones, and careful canopy management by using new pruning methods introduced after the winemaker's visits to France where he learned from the masters. Pruning encourages growth in the new shoots which then hang down to shade grapes from the searing sun in the Robertson Valley. At the same time it controls vigorous growth to ensure that yields are kept low and that the vines are producing the best quality fruit. Irrigation is used only to relieve stress. The rocky soil makes this easy since vines planted in rocky soil show stress clearer than vines planted in other soil types. Minimum spraying is applied and a platoon of ducks keeps the vineyards free from snails.
The cellar, geared to Springfield's back-to-basics and minimum manipulation winemaking approach, is equipped to handle the wine from the grape to the bottle with care and passion. Like the wines, it has developed and grown and the original building dating back to 1902 has been absorbed by a more modern cellar complex.
A new gravity-flow red-wine cellar was recently completed, enabling Springfield to separate red and white winemaking totally. The grapes can now be harvested at optimal ripeness since red and white grapes can be received simultaneously at the two dedicated cellars. With dedicated red and white-wine cellars the winemaker is also able to work each variety individually and to its full potential.
Springfield has its own bottling and labelling line and is fully equipped to handle the grapes from the vineyard to the bottle. Their policy of taking no shortcuts is extended to the packaging of their wines with every neck-tie applied by hand and every bottle individually wrapped before being packed in boxes.