According to The Telegraph, the Swartland “all started in the late Nineties when Charles Back, already the owner of an estate in Paarl, bought a small farm near Malmesbury, put in a winemaker called Eben Sadie, and began making wines under the Spice Route label.” Well Mr. Sadie has since moved on to become the Brad Pitt of bush vines and his place in the affections of Chas has been taken by another Eben, Eben Uys (below), the spitting image of Prince Harry with his clothes on.
Chas admits he has a whole page of Ebens on his smart phone and scrolls down to select the best one for the job. The job at hand is building a craft beer brewery and tasting room at Chas’s Spice Route winery in Paarl. Eben has just submitted his 187 page PhD thesis in chemical engineering to the University of Stellenbosch and spent the last year as mountain bike trainer for Chas and designing the all-singing, all-dancing brewery at Spice Route.
For Chas, always a couple of moves ahead of the game, has decided that the future of wine is all about tourism. He already gets 500,000 feet through the doors of his Fairview operation and the trick is to stop them heading on to Franschhoek, but to rather tarry in Paarl and spend money. To achieve this, he has organized major road works between Klapmuts and the Franschhoek turnoff on the road to Paarl, complete with redundant stop-and-go’s as very little work is ever done on the road.
Plan B is a craft beer brewery called CBC, designed by Eben and some Swedish partners. There is also a chocolatier, a grappa distillery in conjunction with Wilderers, a glass-blowing studio and a vegetable patch that will supply a farm stall called The Old Schoolhouse. Sheep’s cheese in the Portuguese style is also on the agenda. “You can’t get away with wine tastings anymore” he proclaims. “You need authenticity and it has to be educational as well. I’ve just got to figure out what to do with the kids.” Clearly, he needs yet another Eben.