Thursday, October 12, 2017

Michael Hans “Spatz” Sperling (1931-2017)

Image result for spatz sperling photo
Photo © Random Hat Communications

A giant of the South African wine industry has left us. Spatz came to the Cape from Germany in 1951. He joined his uncle Hans Hoheisen and his aunt Del on the Delheim farm where he started to experiment with wine making, eventually adding to his knowledge by consulting with established winemakers. His first wine Spatzendreck, a natural sweet, was tasted by a friend who pronounced it “dreck”. He bottled it with a picture of a sparrow relieving itself on the label and it has been a favourite dessert wine for many aficionados ever since. Sperling is the German word for Sparrow and Spatz is the colloquial equivalent. 
Spatz, Sydney Back of Backsberg and Frans Malan of Simonsig founded the Cape Estate Wine Producers Association when there were very few independent wine estates in South Africa. They were also the driving force in transforming wine estate legislation. The 1973 Wine of Origin system was largely the result of their combined efforts. He was also a pioneer producer of quality red blends and, together with Frans Malan and Neil Joubert of Spier, was a founder member of the Stellenbosch Wine Route. He also had an important role in the establishment of the Stellenbosch Bottled Wine Show and Food and Wine Festival. Pioneers like Spatz laid the foundation for the modern South African wine industry and we are all in debt to his spirit, hard work and enterprise. Our sympathies go to his wife Vera and his family. We celebrate his many achievements and we wish them long life
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