"A remarkable adventure that combines my journey from boyhood, through a professional rugby career abroad, to a genuine love for the old world of wine."

At the heart of Francis Wines lies the story of a youngster, Burton Francis, who’s had to face much adversity and endured his fair share of hardships growing up in the - then rural - town of Paarl, South Africa. He remembers making tracks as he ran from intruders breaking into and hiding in their house. He remembers having to play rugby barefoot on craggy ground - on a cobbled-together, thorny rugby field. Through it all, a determination was birthed to see the soil under his feet change.

Fast forward to a young man tasting the fruit of his hard work and his perseverance that helped him overcome the challenges of his environment, and saw him excel in his rugby career - on home turf, and abroad as a fly-half for several teams in France. His illustrious rugby career spanned over a decade until he had to bow out due to injury.

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Soil is the common thread

that connects these moments,
the foundation of his identity and values.

When he moved to a new country as a young man, he felt like a seed that was uprooted from its familiar soil and transplanted into a foreign one. It took time to adapt to the new culture, language and environment, but eventually he grew new roots and learned to appreciate the diversity and richness of that soil.

The soil metaphor is central to his philosophy and vision for the brand. It’s the foundation of wine quality, and of life quality. At Francis Wines, we see soil as a symbol of origin, identity and potential. We respect and cherish the soil that shapes us as a person. And, as soil is dynamic and evolving, influenced by climate, human intervention and natural forces, we strive to understand and adapt to the soil conditions of each vintage, and to express them faithfully in these wines.

During his time in France, his passion for wine began to blossom, especially the wines of Burgundy. He decided to do his MBA in Wine & Spirits Business at the prestigious Burgundy School of Business, where he learned about the history, culture and techniques of winemaking in one of the most revered wine regions in the world. He immersed himself in the Burgundian lifestyle, enjoying the slow pace, the gastronomy, the art and the nature, and fell in love with the region and the complex and nuanced wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. 

"I was captivated by the slow and beautiful lifestyle, where people respect the land, celebrate the seasons and enjoy the fruits of their labour - literally. I was fascinated by the concept of terroir and climats - the idea that wine is influenced by the natural environment in which it is produced. This experience ignited my dream of creating my own wines that would express my personality, journey and connection to place."

He decided to return to South Africa and look for the right collaborators to start his own wine brand, and found it in Hemel-and-Aarde Ridge, a small appellation within the Hemel-en-Aarde region; and with mentor and winemaking genius, Kevin Grant from Ataraxia Wines.

He was drawn to the beauty, potential and mosaic of soils of this region, which has many similarities with Burgundy. He was impressed by the quality and diversity of the wines from this appellation, with the grapes matching his vision and palate. The soil metaphor comes full circle as it is reflected in the wines, which are influenced by the shale soil of the Bokkeveld Series in Hemel-and-Aarde Ridge.

“My hope is that those who taste this Chardonnay or Pinot Noir would taste the essence of heaven and earth, the soul of my journey, and the harmony of Burgundy and Hemel-and-Aarde. It is a way of connecting with the soul of the soil and the heart of my adventure. It is a journey from soil to soul.”