This co-op owes its name to the town in which it is based, a town which, in turn, got its name from a Scottish minister, Dr William Robertson, who settled there in 1822. The religious community here built a missionary church, which was no longer in use by the time Robertson Winery was established in 1941, so the newly established co-op decided to convert this church into its winery and cellars.
Robertson Winery was the first winemaking co-op in the region, and was set up by the Bruwer family, who have been making wine here for seven generations. They convinced a number of other growers to join forces, and today, over 40 specially selected growers are on board, farming almost 2,500 hectares of vineyards.
The co-op is now part of the Robertson Wine Valley, in which several well-known, award-winning names can be found, such as Bon Cap and Springfield. This warm, dry valley is a haven for winemakers: to the north, the region is protected by the mountains, whereas the south provides the cooling effects of the Breede River, and the land in between boasts a multitude of microclimates to suit a range of grape varieties.
Chief viticulturist Brian Stiip selects growers with prime vineyard sites for each grape variety: deep, cool soils by the river for sauvignon blanc, lime-rich shale and sandstone on the lower mountains for shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, and cool, gravelly Karoo soil higher in the mountains for early-ripening chardonnay.
Vines are planted in a north-west to south-east direction to benefit from the cooling sea breezes, which helps the grapes to ripen at a slower, steadier pace and develop more complex flavours. The chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are picked in the cooler early mornings to ensure they reach the winery as fresh and aromatic as possible.
The winery team is a mix of experienced winemakers and new, eager faces. Bowen Botha is currently at the helm, and has ensured winemaking practices are in line with modern technology, favouring minimal intervention and gentle pressing of the grapes to extract as much fruit character and concentration as possible.
20% of Robertson Winery Chardonnay is fermented in oak, whereas the rest spends its time in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks before being aged on its lees for around 80 days. 20% of the wine also ages for six months in French oak.