The farm sits in a natural amphitheatre, with the granite peaks of the Simonsberg towering behind. Vineyards producing the grapes for Rustenberg and Brampton wines climb the rich red slopes of the Simonsberg and Helderberg. A range of slopes and aspects allows site-specific plantings that enhance varietal characteristics. Vineyards have been rejuvenated with a mix of virus-free clones in all cultivars on the best root stocks. A small scale nursery has been started for propagation, providing available root stock for upgrading, replanting and experimentation. Controlled irrigation is used when necessary to alleviate stress and maximise quality. All grapes are hand-picked in the cool of the early morning and all vineyard blocks vinified separately, then blended for added complexity.
Rustenberg has a wine-growing history dating back to 1682, when settler Roelof Pasman, from the wine region of Meurs near the Rhine in Germany, recognised the potential of the rich, red granite soils of the Simonsberg. The estate flourished, reaching its peak in the 1820s, only to fall victim to phylloxera and the ensuing recession in the second half of the century. Peter and Pamela Barlow purchased Rustenberg in 1940, and the regeneration of this illustrious estate began, replanting new vineyards, enlarging and updating cellars, even installing an electricity-driven crusher thanks to the new power line now serving the farm. Their son, Simon, took over running the farm in 1987 and is the force behind the 21st century Rustenberg.
From 1910 - 1994 Reginald Merriman Nicholson was chief wine maker for Rustenberg.
Reg, as most people knew him, was probably the most charismatic person ever to have owned and worked the soils of this precious valley. He passed away in 1994.
Nature FriendlyOur estate is 1000 Hectare (2500 Acre) in size with most of it (600 Hectare / 1500 Acre) left to nature - in the form of natural vegetation, Eucalyptis & Pine tree forests. We only use roughly 170 Hectares (420 Acres) for vineyards & have roughly 230 Hectares (570 Acres) covered by Pastures for the Jersey herd & buildings / roads. We plant in excess of 2000 trees annually currently to create 'windbreaks' - vineyards are actually little trees & of these we have 550 000.
Organic / Biodynamic
We use systemic sprays & have full weather stations to monitor when best to protect the vineyards enabling us to eliminate the use of chemicals.
We only spray against fungal/bacterial/insect damage in the vineyard if and when required, these being Systemic & Contact Sprays as governed by the IPW.
We are currently drawing up a plan with the Biodiversity in Wine Initiative (BWI) as we are a member of the BWI which works closely with wineries in SA to protect our natural vegetation / open spaces. We also conform to IPW (integrated Production of Wine) which controls all our farming methods to ensure we practise sustainable agriculture.
Water Conservation policies
The Western Cape in South Africa is a winter rainfall area and we do have wet years and dry years. Our VITICULT programme helps us to maximise the information we get to ensure we use only the correct amount of water to avoid waste while keeping the vines alive (sustainable). Our natural wetlands are fenced off and managed separately to ensure the protection of certain bird species.
Due to the shortage of water we irrigate pastures with our winery waste water, and only irrigate our vines when needed.
We use special nozzles which are attached to winery hoses so taps aren't left running. Neutron probes monitor the moisture status of the soil and we only irrigate scientifically according to the requirements of the individual vineyard. We capture most run-off water in 11 dams.
Recycling of dry goods
All excess packing material is recycled, i.e. Glass, capsules, labels, cartons. Even broken pallets & wooden bins are collected and either repaired or recycled by the collection companies.
Actions to neutralise carbon footprint
We review our use of bottles annually and if lighter glass can guarantee a quality seal it'll be used, otherwise we use our land to plant more trees instead & protect natural forest areas to contribute towards our carbon footprint.
We sponsor a home for the aged, through the NOAH programme.
We do 'Aids Training';
Provide lower rung staff's children with subsidies with no strings attached (don't have to work for us);
Most of our staff are given subsidised housing on the farm with free water / electricity / milk;
We do not mechanize in our vineyards in order to have work available, especially for the jobless local community.