The Learning Curve

Walking through the vineyards with a friend recently, I was asked: “Why are you doing such a multitude of interventions in the vineyards?”. It was a good question, as we are busy with a variety of different things, from replanting vineyard blocks to new trellising methods, to planting permanent cover crops in specific rows. The list of interventions goes on and on, and is seemingly endless.


On reflection, it essentially breaks down into Learning and Conviction. We learn more about our place and how it works on a daily basis, and with each new vintage. We see the impact of our previous interventions and actions on the grapes and the resulting wines. We then work out how to improve, little by little – one step at a time.


What builds our Conviction is the constant improvement in the results – our wines continue to develop and progress, and our path to making something exceptional seems more apparent. The idea of Conviction is important: having a high level of belief that permeates the team is essential, motivating everyone


The release of our new wines is an exciting time as it allows us to demonstrate this Learning and Conviction. In May, our three latest Rondekop creations (The Rondekop Rhodium 2020, The Rondekop Per Se Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 and The Rondekop Stone Axe Syrah 2021) will be released. Each of these wines knits together the cornerstone of our place – Rondekop – with tireless precision viticulture and winemaking that perfectly encapsulates what is unique about Oldenburg. Please see the ReView and TeleView segments for more.


On the subject of Learning – one thing that sits close to our hearts is constant Learning – from continuous on-the-job training to coursework for the entire team. In April, Stefan passed the WSET Level 4 Diploma. Bravo! This accreditation sits near the very top of what is achievable in the wine industry, and it is fantastic that Stefan can use his attained knowledge to benefit both our clients and the team.


We also received news that Ryan, one of our cellar team, has been selected for a trip to Burgundy in September, sponsored by The Department of Agriculture. Opportunities like these take work and can be life-changing, so it’s great for Ryan to be selected.


As April progressed, we moved the final parcels of wine from the 2023 harvest into barrels. Nic continues to feel that the harvest results are promising, and what is being described as one of the coolest harvests in recent memory has worked in our favour. For some, the rains in March caused ripening issues on their Cabernet. However, this was not a problem for us – we successfully used the windows of opportunity well and are happy with the results.


In April, Vanessa and I visited Singapore to further introduce our wines to the customers of our local partner Vinum Fine Wines. Having lived there in the 1990s, seeing this continuously changing city is always a pleasure. The wine culture that took off several decades ago, is now maturing – and with it, the interest in South African wines. The Singapore consumer is beginning to understand and appreciate the exciting Cape wine story – early days, but I have no doubts that there will be plenty more to come over the next few years.


In Switzerland, we have partnered with Weindepot, where an old friend of ours (Peter Beaty) has taken over the reins. We have many visitors to the farm from that part of the world, and look forward to hosting some events in Zurich later in the year.


The Cape is having a cool, wet autumn, and the leaves continue progressing towards the golden hue that makes this time of year so unique. A visit to The Tasting Room will reveal some new and exceptional wines illustrating what our Learnings have achieved and demonstrate our Conviction for the future.

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