Rustenberg has a wine-growing history dating back to 1682, when Roelof Pasman from Meurs, near the Rhine, recognized 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 revitalized 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. Simon’s son, Murray, joined in the running of the farm with his father in 2012. The Barlows have been at Rustenberg for over 70 years: the longest period any one family has owned the farm.
The Rustenberg Estate stands on an impressive 880 hectares against the iconic Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch. When standing in the high vineyards of the Estate, the entire vista of Stellenbosch is revealed, with a glimpse of Table Mountain in the distance. Of the 880 hectares making up the Estate, 110 hectares are under vine (with plans to plant some more vines in the next year or so), 200 hectares make up the beautiful pastures and farmland for their cattle to graze on, a portion hosts the historical farm and winery buildings and other structures, and the rest of Rustenberg is comprised of conservation land, made up of natural “fynbos” (the indigenous flora of the Cape) and a myriad of wildlife (including porcupines, caracals, and cape leopard).