Delheim is owned by the Sperling family and is located high on the slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, 50 km from Cape Town. The late Michael Hans ‘Spatz’ Sperling, was the patriarch and his wife Vera still resides on the farm. Eldest son Victor Sperling and eldest daughter Nora Sperling-Thiel serve as Directors of the company and live on the farm with their families. The farm is named for the wife (Deli) of the previous owner Hans Otto Hoheisen and Delheim comes from the German for ‘Deli’s home’.
Initially Hans and Deli planted citrus trees, which are not really suited to Delheim because of the wind conditions. Then German friends suggested that they grow vineyards and two years later Hans Otto planted the first grape vines. The concrete tanks in the cellar were completed in 1944 by Italian prisoners-of-war. During one of Deli’s visits to Germany, she mentioned to her nephew that they needed help on their wine farm in South Africa. This was just after the Second World War and he couldn’t see any future in Germany, so he decided to join them. This was Spatz Sperling, who arrived by ship in 1951 with nothing more than £10 in his pocket. He knew nothing about winemaking and there were no books or winemaking schools in South Africa at that time, so he taught himself through a process of trial and error and with some help from neighbours and visiting German winemakers.
Having established himself as a serious winemaker, Spatz embarked on a series of pioneering initiatives in the South African wine industry in the decades that followed, for example creating the first wine route in 1971: The Stellenbosch Wine Route.
In 1971, the company bought another nearby property. With its warmer, drier climate and sandier soils it is better suited to growing red wines. This property is called Delvera in honor of Spatz’s wife, Vera. The vineyards there are called Vera Cruz – Cruz meaning ‘cross’, allegedly for the cross Vera has had to bear during her long marriage to Spatz!
The aim at Delheim has always been to nurture a strong culture of sustainable development on the farm and within the community that grows up and works together on the estate. A holistic approach to community and land, to wine making and to good business practices is what sustains Delheim.
The grapes for this single vineyard Weisser Riesling come from the oldest vineyard block on Delheim planted in 1985 on the lower slopes of the Simonsberg mountain in a pocket where conditions are optimal for the growth of noble rot. The maturity of the vineyard with its deep roots produces exceptional quality grapes. The grapes are picked on numerous occasions. Each parcel is sorted to make sure that only the top quality grapes are selected. These are then whole bunch pressed and fermented in French oak barrels for nine months.