Goosebumps!

I like to spend time in The Tasting Room meeting the guests, who come from all over the world to visit us – quite flattering when I think about it. I am frequently asked: what is my favourite part about owning a vineyard – the answer is an easy one – being outside in the vineyards, working with nature, surrounded by the mountain amphitheatre (nicely described by a recent visitor as a “colosseum” – I like that one, as it is how it feels). As someone who likes to paint, what we are doing on the farm is like painting a canvas – a very big one in this case – and a project that spans decades, instead of merely hours, days or weeks.

 

Year by year, and piece by piece, the project unfolds. It includes the vineyards, olive groves, and fynbos corridors planted throughout the farm, gardens, buildings, and all the natural elements that nature provides, such as the beautiful river, or the centrepiece: Rondekop. We are not working from a master plan – instead, it is an iterative process that takes the large conceptual pieces into account (for example, we must establish specific vineyards in precise locations).

 

Importantly, it is not ‘my’ project; it is a collective effort of the best ideas and inspiration from the entire team. The part I love is how nature adds input with time: things grow, and that’s often when the magic happens. Each day is slightly different – it’s how the light unfolds, and as the year progresses, the seasons add new and contrasting colours and dimensions. In early May, the farm is bathed in a golden hue as winter descends. In The Homestead garden we have added another ginkgo tree – revered in many Asian countries for its golden colours in Autumn – and a surviving species of tree dating back to before dinosaurs roamed the Earth, a quarter of billion years ago! I am getting those excitement goosebumps just thinking about that fact.

 

In this month’s newsletter video, I take a drive around the farm to show you the various vineyard replanting projects we have ongoing as part of the Generation 3 project. It is a large amount of work, with many moving parts. However, I know Christo and his team are totally on it – the level of precision in our execution is quite something. Christo explains his excitement towards the excellent potential of our vineyard sites on Rondekop – he, too, gets those ‘goosebumps’.

 

The business of Oldenburg Vineyards has moved a long way over the past few years – it has taken much effort and the pride of execution that each individual brings to work every day. In the next couple of months, we will see the retirement of Annine and Richard. Over the course of the 8 years she was with Oldenburg, Annine has taken The Homestead from its initial concept through to actualisation. Richard started working in the garden for my grandmother twenty-eight years ago – he has played a central role in the evolution of all the farm gardens. He is as proud as we are of how beautifully they have developed and become. The team and I wish Annine and Richard all the best in their future endeavours and thank them for their tireless service. In May, we had our new vintages of Rondekop wines in The Tasting Room – talking to some of our customers, the wines live up to what we believe them to be: the best wines we have made on Rondekop – full stop.

 

In the cellar, the wines from the 2023 vintage are now safely in their barrels. The odd natural fermentation continues and may run for a month or two. Other wines continue progressing through malolactic fermentation but can now settle into their new homes and slowly evolve. It’s still too early to make any specific pronouncements about the vintage beside Nic being quietly confident. We will come back later in the year with a more thorough update, but for now, patience is required.

 

May has brought an early winter, which means the vines will have plenty of cold units (below 10 °C), which will be perfect for complete dormancy – just like people, we all need some solid rest after the hard work of harvest to prepare for our best work to come. At the end of May, Nic, Christo, Vanessa, and I are off to Margaret River and Barossa in Australia for some investigation and inspiration. We will let you know what we find in the coming months.

 

In the meantime, the fires are now lit, and we invite you to join us in The Tasting Room to taste some of the great wines from this magical place.

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