The Stars Align

Happy New Year! We seem to be having a bizarre beginning to the year, and looking back at our November Views titled “Greenlights”, it seems we have had yet another spanner (a.k.a Omicron) thrown into the works! In thinking about the year ahead, it’s often helpful to reflect on the past to ensure we are ‘on point’ for what happens next.


One of the extraordinary events over the festive season, which many people perhaps missed, was the successful launch of the James Webb telescope, on Christmas Day. This amazing piece of technology can look 13.7 billion light-years into deep space. In other words, it can look back in time, to about 100 million years after the universe began. During the first few weeks of January, it had to complete complex tasks to reach full deployment. I am excited to see what it discovers.


Like many, I have always had an interest in the stars. My grandfather, Kenny, used to tell stories of his experiences as a young astronomer in the early part of the last century. He was fortunate to see a close passing by of Halley’s Comet. He had a photo of it on his bedroom wall. On the back of that photo, tucked into the frame, was a photo given to him by an Apollo astronaut of Earthrise. A mesmerising image. And a reminder that thinking ‘big picture’ leads one to want to care for our planet!


Back on Earth – and more precisely, on Rondekop – I’ve been reflecting on the recent past. I am starting to feel that the ‘Greenlights’ I discussed in November are perhaps wholly relevant. In 2021, we began to see the Stars Align: the myriad of steps we have taken over the last few years, that have started to bear fruit (please excuse the pun!).


An excellent example of this is Decanter naming our Oldenburg Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2020 in their annual Wines of the Year list (for 2021). Receiving a 97-point rating, we ranked 14th place overall. We are proud of this achievement, and feel it demonstrates our Exceptional from the Extraordinary (Rondekop’s terroir) goals.


Please note the availability of the Chenin Blanc 2020 is limited.


The New Year means harvest is close; we expect to have the first grapes in the cellar by mid-February. As of mid-January, we are firmly in veraison, with the berries changing from green to red (or green to yellow, in the case of white grapes). Christo and his team are fine-tuning the vines, which involves huge attention to detail. The team is tipping the shoots’ growth points, and opening up the canopies. We want to ensure the grapes receive a little sunlight so they can ripen, but not too much, as grapes can get sunburnt. This is a finely balanced exercise.


One of our core beliefs is in Making a Difference. This includes making a difference to the lives of our employees, as well as the wellbeing of the local community. In December, we moved Lena (The Tasting Room’s housekeeper) into her new house. We will give her title as a long-serving employee, and one formerly living on Oldenburg. For the first time in her family’s history, they will own their own home. This is, to our minds, an essential step in building long term financial security.


We have recently received wonderful feedback from happy visitors to The Tasting Room, especially about our Chenin’s success. The following quote from a recent visitor encapsulates much of this feedback: “It was the best wine tasting experience we have ever had! (We have been to quite a few wine farms). The wine was amazing, but Petronella made the experience a truly memorable one.”


So, as we head into Harvest ’22 (our 16th harvest), we are feeling the years of hard work gaining serious traction. We are optimistic that we can continue this positive trajectory. In a universal time scale (which some say is appropriate for measuring progress in the wine industry), we are just getting started! With last year’s success of an Old Mutual Trophy for the Rondekop Per Se Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, and now with a Decanter Wine of the Year 2021 in the bag for the Chenin Blanc 2020, it is clear the stars are indeed aligning.


From the entire team at Oldenburg Vineyards, we wish you much happiness and success in 2022!

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