Delheim, where Family is an Integral Part of Terroir

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Article

One of the ubiquitous features of the Cape winelands and wineries in many parts of the world is the emphasis on family connection to the specific brand. The aspect of family ownership is also not limited to wine – throughout the world family is used as an association in promoting and marketing various consumer items, from cars and watches to dairy and meat products, running shoes and high-end fashion.

Along with fine wine made from a specific terroir – in this case, the Simonsberg of Stellenbosch – family is one of the foundations on which Delheim has been built and on which it is grounded. It is also, we believe, one of the unique features giving our place and our name generational appeal to wine consumers and our business partners.

Of course, time has allowed Delheim to lay claim to its status as a genuine family wine farm.

It all started with family. Hans and Del Hoheisen, the latter being the aunt of Spatz Sperling, who farmed here. Nephew Spatz, seeking employment in post-War Germany, was brought to the Cape by his aunt and her husband to help with the farming. Del and Spatz ran the operation for years, she teaching him about farming in Stellenbosch, the community and the lay of the land. She taught him so well he made Delheim his, and he made it home.

Since the 1950s, pater familias Spatz Sperling played a major role in establishing Delheim as a pioneering Stellenbosch estate. His ethos of ensuring wine quality and his knowledge of the soils, climate and mountain-slopes that shape the vineyards into a state able to create wines with a unique sense of place laid the foundations for Delheim becoming a well-known premium South African wine brand.

Spatz’s pioneering spirit, both in terms of creating wine styles and in opening Cape wine to consumers through helping establish the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, has ensured his place in the country’s wine history. With his wife Vera on his side, Delheim played a profound role in making wine farms and wine accessible to the public through their mutual love of people and a spirit of hospitality.

But perhaps the most important part of Spatz and Vera’s legacy was to ensure that this love of Delheim’s earth, the place and the wines, the warm-hearted embracing of visitors and wine consumers and that pioneering vision was carried over to their children Victor and Nora, who today lead Delheim’s foray into the local and international wine markets. And although the brother’s and sister’s ideas, thinking and approach are more in tune to the modern state of the wine world – as is the case in all generations following their founder – the voice and influence of the founding father resonates firm and true. And has been carried over to all those working on the Delheim family farm.

Victor Sperling, Vera-Sperling and Nora Thiel

With a third generation waiting in the wings, Delheim is thus a wine estate that can truly lay claim to status as a family business, which it does with pride and gratitude.

But what does it matter, this concept of family business?

Well, as previously mentioned, many other wine operations and consumer items are keen to emphasise a family connection. And they would not do this if this inter-generational relationship did not make good business sense. What must be added is that this aspect of family can only add value if it is seen as genuine and real. Because, quite simply, in family the consumer trusts.

Concerning a wine farm such as Delheim, the fact of this being a family business provides the consumer, as well as all parties doing business with the brand, assuredness. Assuredness in the fact that the family has owned and still owns the farm and that there is a track record of excellence drawing back to the first generation. Experience and know-how passed over generations establishes a sense of faith in the mind of the consumer, faith in that these people, well, truly know what they are doing. And can be trusted to provide an exceptional product and a fine experience when visiting them.

But it is more than the family’s proven commitment to farming the vineyards well and making fine wines. The family spirit evokes a sense of involvement and assurance that furthers trust, admiration and respect in the mind and the hearts of the consumer. This knowledge that these people – in this case Nora Thiel and Victor Sperling – are proud custodians of the legacy of Spatz Sperling and what had begun at their beloved Delheim. Their very being is interwoven with the tapestry of viticulture, wine-making and hospitality, making the consumer and visitor realise they are not dealing with a soul-less corporate solely concerned at the bottom-line, but with a family whose blood runs through the very land of this place called Delheim.

And in a world where consumers are bombarded with constant marketing sound-bites from a terrifically vast array of businesses prompting them to buy their products, coming across a wine brand embodying family values and proudly continuing a warm-hearted legacy is something different and special and appealing. We are all people after-all, and people prefer – at this stage of mankind, in any event – to engage with people. And what people are more likeable than family people?

The family at Delheim thus proudly wears its heart on its sleeve. Family is not a value thrown around to conveniently include in the overcrowded world of market-speak, but family is genuine, non-negotiable and honest. It has been and still is as integral a part of Delheim’s profile and success as the Simonsberg terroir, the sustainably farmed vineyards and the winemaking skill.

It is the life-giving artery of Delheim, cherished and beloved, and one that it is proud to share within the realms of the global wine family.

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