Recognised globally as one of South Africa’s top five wine estates, Rustenberg is also one of the oldest in the Cape, having been established in 1892. In 1941 the Rustenberg Farm, which sits 6km north of Stellenbosch, was bought by Peter Barlow. The Barlows have been at Rustenberg for over 60 years: the longest period any one family has owned the farm with Simon Barlow taking over the running of the farm in 1987, and Murray, his son, now involved with winemaking and marketing.
Vineyards producing the grapes for Rustenberg 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. With a long and very proud history of producing exceptional wines, Rustenberg’s winemaking style is simple: produce quality wines true to the style of the estate and the brand.
As part of our monthly producer focus for 2018, we are asking the winemakers a few questions to learn a little bit more about them and their love of wine. Murray Barlow is cellarmaster at his family estate, and much deserved winner of the Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year award in both 2013 and 2016:
What first made you interested in winemaking?
My family has owned Rustenberg since 1941, so winemaking and farming was very much part of my life growing up. My brother decided to go into a career that didn’t involve farming when I was 16 so that was one of many pushes in the right direction. I worked on the farm during my school holidays too which was fun and then beyond that drinking great wine was also hugely encouraging and influential.
What was the most memorable bottle you’ve drunk? Where and when did you drink it?
It would probably a bottle of La Chapelle my father let me taste when I was around 13. It was the the wine that made the penny drop for me as to how beautiful wine can be.
If you could choose another wine region in the world to open a winery, where would it be and why?
It would have to be Mclaren Vale or the Barossa Valley in South Australia. It would be super to work with the old vine Grenache and Shiraz those two regions are so well known for.
If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be?
Very boringly it would be a career in the asset management industry. Investing and understanding the financial world is a great interest of mine.
What is your favourite place in the winery/vineyards and why?
I like both spaces equally. Walking through a vineyard you get to know its quirks, qualities and problems which is vital to then handling that block in the winery. While handling wine and must in the winery as it ferments is also incredibly revealing in how you get to know and handle the wines that are developing in front of you.