Rustenberg has a wine-growing history dating back to 1682, when Roelof Pasman from Meurs, near the Rhine, recognised its wine-growing potential.
By 1781 some 3000 cases of wine were produced on the farm. Production doubled by the end of the century and a new cellar was built. Wine has been bottled at this cellar for an unbroken period since 1892.
In the early 1800s Rustenberg was divided by owner Jacob Eksteen and a section was given to his son-in-law, who named it Schoongezicht and sold it soon after.
Rustenberg and Schoongezicht were at their peak around 1812, with beautiful homesteads and flourishing vineyards. But by mid-century, recession coupled with disease in the vines, brought bankruptcy and dispossession.
Schoongezicht was rescued in 1892 by John X Merriman (who was to become Prime Minister of the Cape), and Rustenberg by his brother-in-law Sir Jacob Barry. Together they revitalised the farms. Fruit was sent to Covent Garden; new vines were grafted onto disease-resistant American rootstock; wines were exported to England and the Continent - and even found in Siberia.
In 1941 Peter and Pamela Barlow bought Rustenberg, later acquiring Schoongezicht and reuniting the properties. Their son Simon took over the running of the farm in 1987. The Barlows have been at Rustenberg for over 60 years: the longest period any one family has owned the farm.
Vineyards producing the grapes for Rustenberg wines climb the rich red slopes of the Simonsberg and Helderberg. The style of wine determines the vineyard to be used: Rustenberg has a history of success with reds, while fresh, fruity whites come from Nooitgedacht, Simon Barlows other farm overlooking False Bay.
A range of slopes and aspects allows site-specific plantings that enhance varietal characteristics.
Our Viticulturist, Nico Walters, and his dedicated team have been working hard to rejuvenate our vineyards by planting virus-free vines imported from France. A small-scale nursery has been started for propagation, providing available rootstock for upgrading, replanting and experimentation.
Controlled irrigation is used when necessary to alleviate stressed vines and maximise the quality of our grapes. All grapes are hand-harvested in the early mornings and all vineyard blocks vinified separately, then blended for added complexity.
There is no set formula - the blend depends on the vintage. Even sections within a vineyard are monitored according to the acid/pH levels, natural sugar levels and flavour of the grapes, which are often picked over a two-week period to optimise ripeness and quality.