A man that has been recognised in the local and international wine industry for more than 40 years, Charles Back, is the 2017 recipient of the wine industry’s most prestigious accolade, the annual 1659 Honorary Award.

The recipient of the 1659 Honorary Award is chosen by a panel of wine industry stalwarts and presented to an individual who has created a legacy and played a profound role in the wine industry. This award is the highlight of the annual Blessing of the Harvest ceremony, held in February 2017 at Groot Constantia, South Africa’s first wine estate, which was founded in 1685. The year 1659 marks the year when the first grapes were pressed in the country for the making of wine.

The Back family stems from a lineage of great entrepreneurs, innovators and winemakers. They are the first family to receive this award for the second time – Charles’ uncle, Sydney Back, is a previous recipient of the same award. Charles himself is no stranger to accolades.

In 1996 the South African magazine WINE voted Charles as the second most influential person in the country’s wine industry, after Nelson Mandela. The same year he was also named as the John Platter Winemaker of the year.

Fairview received the 2004 Dave Hughes Trophy for the best South African red wine in The International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC). In 2009, the Institute of Cape Wine Masters named Charles the Wine Personality of the Year.

In 2014 Charles was honoured with the International Lifetime Achievement Award by the most prestigious wine competition in the world, The International Wine Challenge (IWC). The IWC is accepted as the world’s finest, most meticulously judged competition. He accepted the award with his characteristic humility, and expressed: “But I have barely begun to achieve what I want to achieve!”

Charles strives to ensure that Fairview is constantly driven by its three key values. These are: honesty, heritage, and ensuring that ingenuity perpetually flows from the soil to the cellar. He is known for his polite, friendly, warm, articulate and elegant manner and his ability to always look for the next innovative idea. His integrity goes far beyond his enduring relationships with the 500 people with whom he works. Half of the board members of Fairview are previously disadvantaged wine farm workers.

He has been recognised for his work in introducing Mediterranean grapes such as Viognier, Tempranillo, Tannat, Sangiovese and Petite Sirah to South Africa. He also pioneered the “Swartland Revolution” and has been instrumental in shaping the future of wine tourism in the country through the introduction of artisanal cheese and the establishment of the Spice Route Destination in Paarl, to name just a few of his many achievements.

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