It is a Sunday afternoon in mid-May. In front of me are our Liquidambars (commonly referred to as “Liquid Amber”, or Sweet Gum trees) – one of my favourite trees. The leaves present an array of yellows, oranges and even touches of purple in places. Behind them lie our vineyards, in a golden glow of yellow. We also have a fantastic Gingko tree in the garden, and in a week or two, it will become a bright yellow beacon visible from miles away. Many of the trees in our garden were planted by my maternal grandmother. She had teamed up with my paternal grandmother to ‘import’ exciting plants and trees from all over the world. Today, I am the beneficiary of their efforts. It is such a pleasure to watch nature transition through autumn and into winter.
This weekend, we received our first proper winter rains, and with it the sound of rolling rocks in the river. Even though it is quite a distance from The Homestead, the power of the fast-moving water manages to move the round boulders downstream at quite a speed, creating quite a sound. Another new sound on the farm comes from the hobby of our new viticulturist, Christo. Having commenced his duties at Oldenburg, his prized chickens have taken up residence on the farm. Christo is passionate about chickens – he was showing them off to Vanessa and me last weekend. These are no regular, everyday chickens. Oh, no. These are exotic chickens, that enter – and win! – chicken shows (I never knew such a thing existed…). In May, Christo’s chickens won four “Best in Show” awards at the Western Cape Chicken Show! Feels great to have the new additions (and their accompanying cacophony). It is what living on a farm is all about.
In the cellar, things are progressing nicely. Slowly but surely, the wines are finishing off their malolactic fermentation and heading to barrel, concrete egg or foudre. Clicking through to our Vineyards & Winemaking page, you can scroll down to watch a new Max Vanderspuy video. This one is called Rondekop Translated and it features Nic talking about how he is interpreting Rondekop through his winemaking. Also, in this month’s Point Of View (see below), Nic discusses the role of oak, including the many different small winemaking vessels he employs.
We often get great feedback about our website. The design intends to convey natural beauty, without using too many words. This month, we have added a video on the home page that explains The 8 Elements, that provide the foundation for our terroir. Also, if you are looking for our wines outside of South Africa, click on ‘SHOP’, then click ‘REST OF THE WORLD’. There you will find several price lists for delivery to your door in your home currency, all costs included. We are proud of our wines – so the team will go to great lengths to make access to them as easy as possible, wherever you may be!
In the vineyards, we have been ripping the soil and planting our cover crop. In many ways, it is not only what you do with your vines that matters, but also what you do between the rows that is important. The cover crop consists of different types of plants, for example grasses (e.g. barley), legumes (e.g. fava beans), brassicas (e.g. mustardseed) and triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye). These crops replace nitrogen and are essential for building soil health, which is crucial for maintaining healthy vines and producing exceptional fruit.
We have had many comments about the state of the road to Oldenburg, which unfortunately suffers quite badly when it rains. Over the winter, we will be resurfacing the road for a smoother driving experience. It is quite a project, but its time has come. If you are visiting us during the course of this project, you may experience short delays, but I promise we will have a warm fire and – of course – our wines waiting to welcome you on arrival. Speaking of wines and welcomes, look out for this month’s unique Vertical and Library tastings, which Stefan and his team present with their usual style.
As the rains become more regular, and the mercury drops, the vines enter their annual dormancy, relishing the cool temperatures under 10°C. They will have no shortage of cold over the next four months, allowing them to rest and rebuild their strength for next vintage. The wines, too, will begin their period of rest in the barrel cellar, but everything else will be full speed ahead – there is always more work to do on a farm!
We always delight in hearing your feedback – on any aspect. Whether good or not so good, it helps us grow stronger. From a cool place in a cooling Cape – stay safe.