Spier Farm: South Africa’s Premier Organic Farm and Winery
The Jetsons had moving walkways that we’ve now seen come to life at airports across the world. You can zip past the walking passengers while your bag trails behind you, all while standing. How’s that for futuristic? If you’ve ever been on a Segway tour in a major city, it’s another example of technology once dreamed of being integrated into real life and the tourism industry. Segway tours are a quick and fun way to see a major city. They are battery powered, (read: eco-friendly) compact, and easy to maneuver. Imagine now that you’re gliding through a picturesque farm with a mountainous backdrop, free-range chickens waddling up to greet you, and an organic vineyard producing exquisite wines. When you have 620 hectares of land to cover, the segway comes in handy!
This is your experience at Spier Farm in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Spier is arguably one of the most well known wineries in the area and has many award-winning varietals to back that claim. In 2011 Condé Nast Traveler World Saver Award recognized the estate as the top international destination ‘Doing it All,” from the winery and farm to the guest house and wedding venue. The winery is known for their delicate Pinotage and Creative Block Collection, part of the prestigious Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trading Association.
But the wine is only a small part of the story at Speir. The farm is a place for cultivating sustainability through agriculture and the arts. Inspired by the cultural heritage and natural beauty of the land, Speir has made a great commitment to responsible farming practices and community involvement. As you weave in and out of the vineyard on your segway, you’ll learn about the impressive steps the company is taking.
During the tour, you are led by expert guides who know the ins and outs of the estate like the back of their hands. The first stop is through the indigenous River Garden to look at the native plants of the region. The regeneration of soil fertility in the garden and throughout the estate is achieved through methods such as high-density grazing and nutrient-rich organic compost. Guests staying at the guesthouse are welcome to walk through the gardens and enjoy a meditative stroll at any time.
After a whirl through the gardens, it’s time to visit the coop where the free range chickens are quite friendly – and photogenic! Next, a stop at the Ying and Yang Water treatment plant. Spier installed a “pioneering centralized wastewater treatment plant, which is the embodiment of its approach to waste management.” 100% of its wastewater is treated and recycled back to the garden and grounds. They are also particularly focused on rehabilitating the riparian systems that flow through the farm, and keep the land satiated. These efforts have made them a leader in conservation and are part of their long-term strategy for environmental health. Another goal of Speir’s is to achieve a zero operational waste to landfill by 2017.
The organic winery takes a holistic approach to growing grapes and offers other agriculturally forward efforts, as well. The pasture raised beef and chickens fertilize the soil that the grapes are grown on and they use no pesticides. The composting site where waste is turned into organic, nutrient-rich fertilizer boosts soil fertility in the vineyards and the tree nursery. It all goes hand in hand with creating a balanced ecosystem. A top priority for the farm.
Once the tour ends, you have the option of sampling the wine, cheese, and fruits from the cellar. Guest can dine at Eight, a farm to table restaurant with a seasonal menu or visit the Hoghouse BBQ and Bakery for “low and slow cooked treats.”
There is also a significant focus on the arts and community involvement at Speir. The Craft Market is the perfect place to buy hand-crafted goods from local artisans. Keep your eye out for many commissioned sculptures and paintings throughout the grounds and hotel. They also host art festivals and performances year round and have an arts academy that offers employment-based training in mosaic art with a focus on nurturing previously disadvantaged artists. Some of the other notable social initiatives Spier promotes and takes part in are the Tree-Preneur Project which, “encourages marginalized individuals who are excluded from the formal economy in impoverished communities to grow indigenous trees in exchange for essential goods.” They also created the Pinotage Youth Development Academy which, “seeks to educate and employ disadvantaged youth in the wine industry”.
The list of environmentally friendly, socially conscious and responsibly driven projects that Speir is involved in continues to grow. They are truly a leader in South Africa for their dedication and care to the environment and culture. For more information on booking a stay or taking your own segway tour during your visit to South Africa, visit http://www.spier.co.za/.