Rustenberg, one of South Africa's most prominent winemaking estates, is undergoing a change in winemakers. Adi Badenhorst, who has been the head winemaker since the 2000 vintage, has announced plans to leave Rustenberg in order to pursue his own interests. Owner Simon Barlow said he plans to promote assistant winemaker Randolph Christians to take over Badenhorst's duties.
"An opportunity has arisen to fulfill a dream of one day crafting my own wine [via] a family venture," said Badenhorst. "I have also been approached to do some consulting work, both local and international."
The Rustenberg estate encompasses 2,900 acres (10 percent of which is under vine) in the prime Simonsberg-Stellenbosch area. Barlow's father first purchased the property in 1941, and today the estate produces 100,000 cases per year under the Rustenberg and Brampton labels.
Barlow pulled his family's interests out of the industrial sector in the mid-'80s to focus entirely on rebuilding the property, which is one of the longer-running wineries in South African history. During the '90s, he undertook a massive replanting of the vineyards and a renovation of the winery before he hired Badenhorst and viticulturist Nico Walters. Walters is staying with the company despite Badenhorst's departure.
The combination of Barlow's investments and Badenhorst's stewardship resulted in greatly improved wines from the estate, which now garner consistently very good to outstanding ratings for the Cabernet Sauvignon- and Merlot-based reds as well as the Chardonnay. Recently added Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne bottlings have also shown considerable promise. Badenhorst, 34, was just the fifth winemaker in Rustenberg's history.
"The split was amicable, and I do see that Adi needs a new challenge, so no worries there," said Barlow.