Number 8

The number 8 has always been a lucky number for me. Years ago – when we lived in Singapore – my wife and I were deciding about moving to a new house. I was at the office, and asked a colleague about moving to a new area, and whether he thought it would be a good place to live. John asked me what the house number was, and I told him 128, to which he replied in characteristic ‘Singlish’: “Lucky lah – every day to prosper”. The number 8 in Chinese is often considered lucky, and prosperous. I told him the house number was, in fact, 128B, and he said: “Even luckier!”. I enquired why that was, and was told: “Well, the B looks like another 8!”. We moved there, and our first son Max was born there. Indeed, it turned out to be a great place to live!


At Oldenburg Vineyards, the number 8 continues to be lucky. The 8 Elements – that define our terroir – offer us the incredible confluence from which we make our wines, delivering a distinct elegance at their core. We are lucky to have this natural combination of almost magical factors. Furthermore, we feel fortunate to be the ones who are the custodians of this patch of nature.


Walking around the vineyards this month, I noticed each row had exactly 8 lines of sprouting cover crop. The cover crop is planted between the vine rows, and plays a crucial role in maintaining soil health – and the general health of the entire vineyard. Christo has brought new techniques to the table when it comes to planting cover crops. We now have a Piket planter, which allows us to practice no-till farming. No-till means when we sow, we do not plough deeply into the soil. Deep ploughing disturbs the mycorrhizal network, reducing microbial activity, and releases carbon. The Piket planter slices the ground, sows the seeds and then rolls the earth to cover them, at only 1 to 2 cm deep. Once the cover crop is planted and the rains arrive right on time, the vineyards turn a vibrant, lush green, and recovery from the harsh summer season begins. By doing things this way, Christo tells me we will, over the years, create an increasingly healthy environment, allowing nature’s regeneration to work its therapeutic magic.


In May, we solidified our plans for the next phase of the farm regeneration. This winter, we will continue planting more fynbos, establishing a program that allows us to create a corridor that essentially divides the farm into two halves. It connects with other natural passages, which creates a line of uninterrupted natural vegetation from one mountain range to another. Our replanting program sits alongside an extensive clearing program to remove non-indigenous (invasive-alien) vegetation. The exciting part: as everything develops, the natural beauty – already so abundant around us – gets even better!


Some more exciting developments – we began rolling out the Oldenburg Vineyards Rondekop Wine Club during the month. The Club invites our avid international private clients to join and follow the Oldenburg Vineyards’ journey from an insider’s perspective. We have received tremendous feedback from our current 8 Elements Wine Club members. The plan is for all our international private clients to be able to join some of our events – both in South Africa and in other parts of the world. Events like our Wine Club dinners at The Tasting Room, and ones hosted in Johannesburg (at Marble restaurant). Or next month’s events at 67 Pall Mall in London. We will be sending more details to our existing private clients soon, but it you would like to know more in the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Marthélize.


On the new release front, the Oldenburg Vineyards Grenache Noir 2020 is now available online and in The Tasting Room, at R2040 per case. 


If you missed our recent mailer showcasing the Harvest at Oldenburg Vineyards documentary made by about our 2022 harvest, you can watch it here. I found it particularly enjoyable to watch with a glass of Stone Axe Syrah 2019 in hand.


Some say there is no such thing as luck; instead, the harder and smarter you work, and the more you practice, the luckier you become! Perhaps true, but I also think there is some measure of luck involved. As an example – humans have been around for about 10,000 generations, yet only during the last six to ten generations has the world generally been kinder to us. I would say it we are pretty lucky to have been born when we were! Whether it is the luck that 8 rows of cover crop bring us or the 8 Elements – I’ll take it. We all need a little luck!

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