In Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, Greenlights, he tells his story through amusing anecdotes and lessons learned, which lead to ‘greenlights’ that allowed him to move forward to the next adventure. Probably my favourite book of the year. Earlier this year, (whilst recovering from Covid), I tuned into Netflix’s Drive To Survive, a behind the scenes documentary about the drivers and races of the Formula One World Championship – quite addictive viewing. From there, I have now begun tuning into the occasional F1 race. Interestingly, a sequence of five green lights is needed to launch each race, due to the complexity of getting the cars into gear and racing.
Reflecting on the past year, it struck me that we have dealt with our fair share of red lights at Oldenburg. In early 2020, we were set and had all the green lights on. Sadly, Covid had other plans. As we now draw towards the end of 2021, I believe we have learned quite a few more lessons, and taken many necessary steps. Now we are looking at five green lights again – telling us it’s time to ‘launch’.
At Oldenburg, I am calling 2021 the year of Virus Squared: Covid being one, and Leaf Roll Virus being the other. The whole world knows the level of disruption caused by the former, but the wine industry is also all too familiar with the damage caused by the latter. The good news: we have been proactive, and removed the affected blocks. We have been replanting on the farm for three years now, and by 2022 we will complete the task of entirely replanting all the vineyards on Rondekop. Many significant tweaks in viticulture have come along with the replanting strategy, which will take our vineyards several steps forward. Greenlight.
With the arrival of Christo, our pursuit of precision viticulture has taken a substantial leap forward. Christo says: “If we are planting these vineyards to endure the next 100 years, we have to do everything right at the beginning”. I agree. Greenlight.
2021 will mark the beginning of Oldenburg’s reign as one of the makers of some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon in South Africa. I realise this is a big call to make, however it is made with a high level of conviction. Nic’s first Cab Sauv, the 2019 Rondekop Per Se, has attained a Platter 5 Star, with 96 points scored. This result mirrors the Old Mutual Trophy result earlier this year, where the wine scored 97 points and was awarded the trophy for Best Cabernet Sauvignon in South Africa. It is not the points that matter, though. Instead, we know we have unlocked the potential we have always known to be on Rondekop through improved viticultural practices. We had another five wines that just fell short of the 5-star rating (attaining a 4½ star rating); a tremendous result for Nic’s first harvest on the farm. There is one more – very exciting – accolade to come (for our Chenin Blanc), but it’s embargoed for release until after publication. Watch this space. Greenlight.
I am often asked which part of Oldenburg is my favourite, and – without a doubt – it is the vineyards, and the joy of working with nature. To be clear, I am not the expert here – that’s Christo’s job. I think my passion for nature and plants probably come from my grandmother, Una. My father, Peter, is now the custodian of her garden at Old Nectar – just on the other side of the mountain from Oldenburg. Over the past eight years, he has brought about a complete renaissance of the entire property. It is worth a visit, as it really is a wonder! In November, my father celebrated his 80th birthday. I think it is fitting to salute a man who has inspired many – myself included – with a life of Big Picture thinking. Chapeau! Greenlight.
Here at Oldenburg, our love for nature and plants has encouraged us to complete two projects. One is planting a further two hectares of indigenous vegetation – on two different sites, both wetlands. I would say this is something many call re-wilding. The other project, led by Vanessa, is the replanting of The Homestead garden. The beauty of the farm grows more and more – if that is even possible! Greenlight.
In November, the Tasting Room project finally reached completion – a significant 10-year anniversary upgrade. Stefan has added to the team, and we are excited to have a steady flow of visitors arriving from all corners of the globe. I am pleased to invite you and your friends to an exceptional wine tasting, created by Stefan and the team, with wines brought to you by Nic van Aarde and his team. You will not be disappointed, so please DO NOT forget to book! Greenlight! We are fast becoming THE talked about wine experience.
In November, we hosted our first 8 Elements Wine Club dinners in Gauteng. Both evenings were a great success, and it was great to meet many people who have been sharing the Oldenburg Journey for the past few years and some new members. Greenlight!
During the month, Marthèlize invited one of South Africa’s most experienced wine journalists to visit Oldenburg. She had tasted our wines, but never visited the farm. Her comments give a peek into what comes next from us – “Tasting 2021s from the barrel/tank was a revelation: freshness, purity with character, appropriate extraction and oaking (much less new) – all reflecting much more of your cooler area; WOW, I was so impressed and pleased”. Greenlight! The right people have made similar comments several times, so our future is looking bright.
As we head into the festive season, I would like to encourage you to have a look at the wines in our magnum collection. There is no better way than to spend time with family and friends, and to my mind, a magnum adds a little sparkle to these special occasions. From all of us at Oldenburg Vineyards, we wish you happy holidays and great times with family and friends.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to our navigation of the past year. We began 2021 with the view to be Full Speed Ahead, and I think we have kept on point despite the difficulties entailed therein. Thanks to our customers who have stuck with us on our journey and all your helpful feedback. To the Team at Oldenburg, Thank You, Bravo and GREENLIGHT!