In the middle of winter, when the vines have shed the last of their amber leaves and roots are drawing their strength for summer; when the grey-green veld sparkles after the rain and the tallest peaks of the Riviersonderend mountains are dusted in snow, it is the striking silhouette of the Karroo Acacia, with its profusion of dazzling white thorns, that commands attention.
It is this image of one of the Karoo’s most prolific thorn trees that inspired the name Silverthorn Wines. Silverthorn has become synonymous with our ethos of Afropean synergy, combining old world European heritage and knowledge; and our contemporary African environment and culture.
At the heart of Silverthorn Wines lies a deep appreciation for nature, which is woven closely into the origins of this top end brand.
Born into a well-known trading and farming family in Hamburg in 1927, Joachim Rieck grew up with a deep respect for the earth and its life-giving forces. In 1952 he left Europe to settle in Namibia, where he continued to nurture his enduring appreciation of nature.
In 1976, Joachim Rieck was able to realise a lifelong dream when he and his wife Rosemarie bought a farm outside Robertson on the banks of the Breede River, overlooking the rugged peaks of the Riviersonderend Mountains. Joachim spent many happy years there, growing grapes and conserving the abundance of unspoilt flora, including wild olives, acacias and a wide range of succulents.
When he passed away in 1999, the farm came under the care of his daughter, Karen, and her husband, John Loubser. Karen was working as an interior designer in Cape Town, while John had studied viticulture and was making a name for himself as winemaker at Graham Beck.
The challenge that they set for themselves, was to transform Silverthorn Farm into an exclusive boutique winery during their free time.
Realising that the Robertson Valley was particularly well suited to Chardonnay and Shiraz grapes, Joachim and John had already set about replacing existing vineyards with a variety of different Chardonnay and Shiraz clones in the early 1990’s.
Perhaps it was no accident then, that during the year 2000 and 2001, John worked under the mentorship of the dynamic Pieter Ferreira at Graham Beck Wines, and in the process discovered his passion for Methode Cap Classique wines.
Knowing that Silverthorn’s terroir, with its rocky, lime-rich, shale soils was similar to the famous Champagne soils in France, and with their Chardonnay vineyards starting to mature the time was ripe for Silverthorn’s entry into the world of sparkling wine.
John and Karen released their first 3 500 bottles of The Green Man in September 2006 and this was followed by Genie, their Rosé Cap Classique in 2009. Both wines were extremely well received. For Cap Classique connoisseurs, Silverthorn had been put on the map.
By 2009 and with a well-established foundation, Silverthorn was ready to move to the next level. The wines had attracted the interest of investment banker and wine enthusiast Brett Nagle, as well as John’s brother, Steven, currently working in leverage finance at Standard Bank.
With Brett and Steven’s involvement, Silverthorn was able increase production of The Green Man and Genie, as well as add a much anticipated third sparkling wine to the range. Silverthorn’s Special Cuvee (as yet unnamed), a classic French blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, will remain on the lees for a minimum of three years and is due to be released towards the end of 2012.
Silverthorn Wines produces an exciting range of top end, Methode Cap Classique (MCC) wines, which have undergone a natural, secondary fermentation in the bottle. The term MCC was coined by the South African wine industry when the international use of the word ‘Champagne’ was banned.
Silverthorn Farm has the perfect terroir for the production of exceptional sparkling wines. Silverthorn Wines is among only a handful of producers who have dedicated their expertise solely to the production of this elegant style of wine. Silverthorn Wines is a proud member of the Cap Classique Association, an independent organisation which collectively supports and markets Cap Classique wines.