This remarkable winery has a long standing tradition of winemaking, as the original cellar infrastructure of concrete and underground tanks prove. Unfortunately, these underground tanks had to be filled up to level the floor of the old cellar.
A new winery in was completed in 1997, when the old cellar was renovated and converted into a barrel fermentation centre. Over the last few years the cellar has been re-equipped and modern cooling equipment was installed in the renovated cellar during 2000. The cellar has the capacity to handle 450 tonnes of grapes.
Winemaker, Wynand Grobler, joined Rickety Bridge in December 2007.
Wynand was born and raised in Bloemfontein and matriculated at Grey College in 1999. Growing up in the Free State he didn’t have much contact with wine making as such but frequently enjoyed some wine out of his father’s underground cellar, the cellar being a rarity in itself in the region. He was attracted to the idea of making wine by a life time family friend by the name of Prof. Sakkie Pretorius, who was head of the Stellenbosch University Wine department at the time.
Two years into his studies at Stellenbosch University, he started working casually at Rust en Vrede wine estate to learn the industry and his wine making career got underway. From Rust en Vrede he stayed under the same umbrella and went to work at Ernie Els Wines. From there he went to work at Guardian Peak, another branch of the Engelbrecht Els tree.
All in all, he had worked with three completely different winemakers, with three completely different approaches. This experience was invaluable in finding his own style and wine philosophy – Perfection, Passion and Feel.
Wynand’s wine making philosophy is simple: Basics. Stick to basics. Don’t interfere too much; the wine is made in the vineyard. “Wine is grown here!”
Wynand likes to make wine that a wine drinker will enjoy. He likes to make wine that he enjoys drinking and there is no better feeling than someone enjoying something that you helped putting together.
During the late 1980s, the estate, then known as Zandrift, started a new era of development with a replanting programme which was initiated in 1989 and in 1992 the first wine was produced from these vines.
The total size of the Rickety Bridge wine estate is 56 Hectares of which 25 Hectares are made up of currently producing vines with another 6 Hectares under development. Rickety Bridge also owns the neighbouring property, Basse Provence, which is home to a further 11 Hectares of vines.
The vineyards are broken down into the following cultivars: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon. More recently the following cultivars were planted: Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache noir, Grenache blanc and Mouvedre. Wynand believes that the actual quality of the grapes harvested, arising from good viticultural practices, is crucial to ensure the best possible wine is bottled.
In order to achieve the consistent high quality, Rickety Bridge also sources specific grapes from other areas or microclimates to suit the requirements of the winery by lifting quality and ensuring a premium product which sets Rickety Bridge apart from other producers.