Winter Newsletter

To All Our De Rustica Subscribers…
We consider each and every one of you part of our extended family. Join us as we take a brief walk down memory lane. The last three months have seen our lovely farm in a blaze of activity and excitement!

De Rustica Estates Crowned #1 in the World

The big news, of course, is that De Rustica Estate Coratina was voted the overall champion (from a pool of over 1000 entrants) at the prestigious EVOOLEUM 2023 annual event in Spain. As this is the first time a Spanish or Italian estate has not won the title – effectively the World Cup of extra virgin olive oil

competitions – it really is something to be proud of for De Rustica Estates and the South African olive industry as a whole.

This remarkable achievement has solidified De Rustica’s reputation as a leading producer of exceptional olive oil and a true ambassador of the olive oil industry. The result was a flood of international media attention, farm visits and direct web sales. The sales team and back office have been frenetic!
  De Rustica has now cemented its place as being by far the most consistently awarded and quality-recognised producer of extra virgin olive oil in South Africa.

De Rustica Estates’ accomplishment at the EVOOLEUM 2023 not only honours their hard work and expertise but also serves as an inspiration to other local olive oil producers. It showcases the immense potential that lies within the South African olive oil industry and encourages others to strive for greatness in their own pursuits. De Rustica’s success represents a milestone for the industry, highlighting the significance of craftsmanship, innovation, and the utmost respect for tradition.

De Rustica’s unwavering dedication to excellence is evident in every step of their olive oil production process. From carefully selecting the finest olive varieties to implementing sustainable farming practices, they prioritise both the quality of their olives and the preservation of the environment.  This holistic approach results in olive oil that truly captures the essence of nature’s bounty, delivering an exceptional sensory experience to all who have the privilege of tasting it.

The recognition bestowed upon De Rustica at the EVOOLEUM 2023 is a testament to their unwavering commitment to crafting olive oil of unparalleled excellence. Rob Still, owner of De Rustica, says the award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team at De Rustica.

For more information about this stunning achievement, click here.


De Rustica Wins Double Gold at Aurora International Taste Challenge 2023

Both our Estate Medium Extra Virgin Olive Oil and our Coratina Extra Virgin Olive Oil scored Double Gold during the 2023 Aurora International Taste Challenge. This once again confirms our commitment to producing quality extra virgin olive oil that exceeds all expectations.

The Aurora International Taste Challenge was established to recognise and award food and drink excellence internationally while helping consumers purchase award-winning, expertly-rated products with confidence.

This competition makes use of the finest experts with intensive international experience to evaluate the products. The judges consist of chefs, sommeliers, and product-specific experts with intimate knowledge of olive oil quality.

As a more robust olive oil, our Coratina Extra Virgin Olive Oil pairs beautifully with dark meat, and stews and can also serve as a showstopper at the dinner table. Our Estate Medium Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an all-rounder and can be paired with salads, light meals, or your main course of choice.
If you’d like to purchase these two award-winning extra virgin olive oils, please follow this link.


Reën op die Plaas, Gravitasiebesproeiing en die Komende Winter

Tot April vanjaar is ons geseën met baie meer reënval, vergelyking met laas jaar. Die reën het voortgeduur gedurende Mei wat ons damvlakke dramaties opgestoot het (al amper 100% vol). Alle riviere, slote en pype vloei in oormaat.

Dit lyk ook asof die komende winter al vinnig aan ons voordeur wil begin klop. Koue toestande het reeds die Swartberge met ‘n ligte sneeulagie bedek.

Dawie Durand, De Rustica se algemene bestuurder, is besig om die “laaste myl” van pypwerk op die middelplaas af te handel. Binnekort sal al ons waterbronne via damme en pype regdeur die volle 14 km-lengte van die watersisteem gekoppel wees. Dit maksimeer nie net waterdoeltreffendheid nie, maar benut ook die 250 m hoogteverskil om water deur swaartekrag te lewer en sodoende Eskom te vermy, wat noodsaaklik is vir die plaas se voortbestaan.

Natuurlik is ons waterkwessies ook grootliks aangehelp deur die baanbrekerwerk wat deur De Rustica op omgewingsgebied gedoen is. Ons het onlangs saamgespan en die Nelsrivier skoongemaak deur indringerplante te verwyder, spesifiek swartwattel, poplier en Spaanse riet.

Die drastiese impak op die gesondheid, asook die kapasiteit van die rivier is onbetwisbaar. Ons sal in die toekoms meer oor hierdie belangrike onderwerp uitbrei.


Olive Matters

‘n Groot Oes Knipoog vir De Rustica

Ons boorde het vanjaar ‘n ryk oes gelewer ten spyte van verlede jaar se droogte (ons het natuurlik besproei, maar dit was ‘n stryd) en matige winter wat min koue eenhede na vore gebring het.

Kallie Frey, ons olyfkenner, glo dat sy oordeelkundige gebruik van kunsmis die verskil gemaak het! Die bome se oestyd is ongeveer twee weke uitgestel in vergelyking met vorige jare, wat waarskynlik veroorsaak is deur die meer gematigde laat somer.

Die probleem was egter om die oes betyds gepluk en verwerk te kry. Soos gewoonlik het ons aanvanklik gefokus op die gehalte van ons olywe en ons kultivars in April hersien. Ignacio Segura, ons Spaanse konsultant (ook geken as die Professor), het ten volle gebruik gemaak van die opeenhoping van Suid-Afrikaanse openbare vakansiedae in April, wat saam met die oorvloedige reënval ‘n stadiger begin as beplan veroorsaak het.

Nietemin, die momentum neem toe en die plaas verwerk nou meer as 30 ton olywe per dag. Tot dusver het alle kultivars ‘n goeie opbrengs gelewer, met FS-17 wat uitstaan met meer as 20 ton per hektaar.


Tasting Notes: The 2023 Harvest

Ignacio and Kallie conducted a tasting of early production with both staff and Rob’s family who had gathered for the wedding of his nephew, Dr Daniel Still to Dr Tanita Sands. Everything was pronounced excellent, and as usual, the Coratina was world-class. But the best by far this year is our Favolosa (FS-17) for which Ignacio has great plans in the forthcoming international competitions.


Cultivar Conundrums

We thought you might be interested in our ongoing cultivar conundrum. De Rustica initially planted, after soliciting advice from the industry, the traditional Tuscan mix of Frantoio, Coratina and Leccino cultivars. Soon after the initial planting date, we added both the FS-17 (a Frantoio derivative) as well as the Delicata (a Leccino derivative) cultivars to the mix.

Right from the start (in 2006), we focused on the merits and properties of each cultivar. We soon concluded that our initial Tuscan mix is not optimal for our climate. What followed was an ongoing 10-year programme to optimise the cultivar mix at De Rustica. New Greek, Spanish, Israeli and Tunisian cultivars have been introduced on a trial basis. Although we are still deciding which cultivars will make the cut, the Estate will concentrate on at least two of these. The Leccino and Delicata trees have been removed.

Factors considered include:

  • Pollination – self-pollinated or cross-pollinated and with what?
  • Flowering period – we prefer a long flowering period which can overcome short hot unseasonal spring periods. We also prefer early pollination to avoid late Spring hot periods.  
  • Oil quality.
  • Yield and consistency of bearing.
  • Cold units needed?

De Rustica Boer Ook Met Skape

Ons skape vorm deel van alledaagse lewe by De Rustica. Ons boer met Dohne Merino-skape in ‘n intensiewe agt-maande-siklus en het tans 2300 ooitjies. Ons produseer jaarliks ongeveer 4000 lammers, sowel as wol.

Dit is ‘n boeiende sakeonderneming vir diegene wat belangstel. In die volgende Winter Nuusbrief sal ons dieper indelf in sommige van ons skaapaktiwiteite en ‘n onderhoud voer met Rampie, ons Hoof van Skaapbedrywighede.

Ons het ook ‘n klein gelisensieerde slagpaal op die plaas en verkoop De Rustica Karoo-skaap in half-lam-in-‘n-boks-pakkies teen bekostigbare pryse.


Social and Community

A Wedding at De Rustica

Over the long weekend in late April, Dr Dan Still and Tanita Sands celebrated their marriage at the De Rustica Estate. The wedding ceremony took place between the olive groves and the reception under a tent next to the press, with the latter serving as the bar and dance area. De Rustica lambs were served on a spit with De Rustica springbok carpaccio as a starter.

The wedding guests participated in a Fun Run, an olive oil tasting, and a braai over a weekend of festivities. Those in attendance booked out Asher Stable Stay Guesthouse on the farm as well as most of the accommodation in the area.

This event, as well as Katherine Still’s marriage to Le Roux Murray in 2018, have been huge successes. We have realised that De Rustica can serve as an all-in-one wedding venue that compares very favourably to the very best of the Cape Winelands.

For any wedding-related enquiries, please contact us at +27 44 241 2177.


Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo 2023 Gravel Bike Race

The last weekend of April played host to the Swartberg 100 Gran Fondo 2023 Gravel Bike Race. Participators cycled from Prince Albert to De Rust via Meiringspoort and then via the Oude Muragie road to the Swartberg Pass back to Prince Albert. The trail totalled a distance of 170 km. Entrants were charmed by the beauty of the De Rustica valley and enjoyed our refreshment station.

The event also saw our farm used for the start of the shortened version of this race – ‘only’ about 76 km up our Oude Muragie valley and on to Prince Albert via the Swartberg pass.

Why don’t you join us next year? It’s truly a wonderful event. Follow this link to participate.


Meiringspoort-staproete en MTB-uitdaging

Die jaarlikse Meiringspoort-staproete en MTB-uitdaging het op 20 Mei in die dorp De Rust plaasgevind, en soos altyd het De Rustica die gemeenskap as gasheer van die geleentheid bygestaan.

Die geleentheid het ‘n steak-braai, biertent en baie kosstalletjies ingesluit wat deelnemers die geleentheid gegee het om te ontspan en te herstel na die uitdaging. As jy lief is vir die buitelug en volgende jaar wil deelneem, kan jy jou plek hier bespreek.


An Artsy Affair: Liza Grobler & Erick Vissers

Over the years, we at De Rustica have made it one of our main missions to support and encourage art and culture in our local community. In recent times, the Estate has been collaborating with artist Liza Grobler in her efforts to create ‘beaded’ images of our iconic farm and the Klein Karoo.

Here are some examples of her inspiring work:

With the help of Mark Read who chairs the Everard Read Group of Galleries, Rob Still managed to locate a 1929 painting by old SA master Erick Vissers of Meiringspoort.

After careful and needed restoration, this is what it looks like:

Dawie and his team are keen to one day incorporate local art in the branding of our olive oil packaging.


Nature Corner

Die Klein Karoo is ‘n werklik prentjiemooi! Die area se flora en fauna bestaan uit ‘n unieke kombinasie van fynbos, vetplante, en veldblomme. Die streek bied ondersteuning aan ten minste ses verskillende boomtipes. Ongeveer helfte van die plantspesies is endemies aan die Suid-Afrikaanse Kaapstreek, en baie van hulle word slegs in die Klein Karoo aangetref en nêrens anders ter wêreld nie.

Die winter is op pad, en soos altyd blom duisende Kaapse Aalwyne op die plaas in ‘n kaleidoskoop van skitterende kleur.


De Rustica: Our People

Our farm in the Klein Karoo is all about our people and our community.

We are delighted to welcome Precilla Steenkamp back to the team. She is a part of our history and shares our passion for De Rustica. Precilla will be managing the Showroom, olive oil tastings and will also be working with our digital marketing team.

Many of you will know Megan who works in the press sales area and assists visitors who swing by for olive oil tours & tastings. Megan was born on the farm and is the daughter of Kerneels Rabie, a Senior Foreman at De Rustica.

She was educated in De Rust and would like to one day step into a managerial role at the farm. Her passion for everything olive knows no bounds and we are excited to see her grow and flourish as she helps De Rustica to reach new heights.


Visit Asher Stable Stay Guesthouse

De Rustica’s Asher Stable Stay Guesthouse is situated on our farm at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains and is only 5.5 km from the small village, De Rust, and 10 km from Meiringspoort, the gateway that connects the Klein Karoo and the Great Karoo.

Our accommodation offers seven comfortable units, three twin rooms (two single beds) and four double rooms (one double bed). Each room is equipped with basic, but modern necessities. We choose to appreciate the safety, peacefulness, scenery, and beauty of nature around us more than luxury technology, thus escaping the hustle and bustle of day-to-day city life.

In addition to these, we also offer The Still’s Residence, a luxury three-bedroom house (sleeps six–eight people). With unspoiled views, a modern and fully equipped kitchen, very comfortable rooms, and an outdoor entertainment/braai area, this promises to be an unforgettable Klein Karoo breakaway for a family or group of friends.

Follow this link if you would like to book your spot.


Olive Tours: Discover Quality at its Finest!

We offer daily olive tours from Mondays through to Saturdays. Every tour kicks off at 11h00 at our tasting room and allows visitors to discover what high-quality, award-winning olive oil should taste like. This immersive experience is open to anyone who would like to know more about olives, olive oil, and the whole production process from tree to bottle. Bookings are essential.

The tour includes:

  • History of the olives, orchards, olive production and harvesting.
  • Olive pressing can be observed (in season).
  • Olive press machinery will be shown and a video on the process (out of season).
  • Tasting of different olive oil cultivars.

In addition to our informative olive tours, you can also drop by our on-farm restaurant. Visitors can sip on a hot cup of coffee or enjoy our soup or hot plate of the day. We don’t have a set menu, so you can expect something new every time you visit. We also offer a set platter which can be enjoyed with both friends and family.