Winemaker Zelma Long and Winegrower Phillip Freese first discovered South Africa in 1990 when they were invited there to give a series winemaking and winegrowing lectures. They found a stunningly beautiful wine country abounding in qualities associated with making great wines. The singular climate affected by two oceans, beautiful deep granite soils and old clay loam confirmed the enormous potential for producing wines of elegance, finesse and flavor. A love affair with the Cape ensued. They returned several times over the decade, convinced that it was in South Africa where they would pioneer their first project of making wine in great sites around the world. In 1997, Michael Back of Backsberg Winery located a parcel of land in the Paarl Valley, and became a partner in their winegrowing and winemaking dream. Simunye was born.

Each partner contributes towards the whole of the project: Zelma brings her winemaking skill and palate, setting up the winemaking process, and doing the blending. Phillip is known internationally for his winegrowing skill and experience, and directs the technical viticulture - everything from selecting plant material to consulting on the training and management of the vineyard. Michael Back is the ‘on-site’ partner and operations head, ensuring that the venture plans are properly implemented.

Simunye is Zulu for We Are One. The name was chosen for many reasons. It symbolizes the new South Africa, the emerging Rainbow Nation and unity of country. In a direct sense, it represents the joint efforts of these three partners. It also integrates their philosophies of winegrowing and winemaking, which are to best reflect the character of the wine to the nature of the land. Simunye is the catalyst that unifies and expresses both the vast resources of South Africa (soil, climate, partners) and the belief in the oneness of winegrowing and winemaking.

The partners’ goals are to produce a limited number of wines that represent the superb sites and conditions of the Cape of South Africa, and bring them into international recognition and renown. They are well on their way.