With the 2019 harvest almost upon us and being struck down with tick-bite fever for the fourth year in a row, I have some time to reflect on 2018 and wonder what 2019 will bring.
2018 was a hectically fabulous year. My first kid was born, Schalk Michael Engelbrecht, a beautiful boy – at 4.45kg! I started to learn isiXhosa – forgotten most of it but will start again this year.
Besides my first child, 2018 was a year of firsts. It was my first harvest with Eben Sadie. My first time visiting the Kokerboom Nursery in Vanrhynsdorp. The first harvest of a vineyard I saved with farmer André du Toit and the first harvest in 22 years for that Chenin blanc vineyard, planted in 1974. The first harvest of a vineyard I planned in Slate soils in the cool climate region of Philadelphia back in 2015. The first single vineyard wine made from another Chenin blanc vineyard in the Klein-Drakenstein mountains that was saved and restored back in 2014. My first time officially being in snow while it snowed in Ceres on the 2nd of July, and build my first snowman (I live in Africa – snow is kind of a big deal) The first harvest for a new range of wines with Tremayne Smith of The Blacksmith Wines. Privileged to meet Tegan Passalacqua for the first time and visit some vineyards with him – hopefully not the last time! The first time I spoke at Cape Wine, on a very difficult topic of using technology in battling Climate Change.
I started working with Duncan Savage. Started at a very exciting new brand in Paarl called Brookdale (Also with Duncan Savage and Tim Rudd). I saw ladybirds hump, bought a kayak, saw amazing vineyards, mushroom hunted a few times with mentor, second father and friend Abé Beukes, trained almost 100 workers in pruning, judged my second Felco Pruning competition. Designed new vine gardens with my drone, satellites and GIS. Rescued an old Semillon vineyard from the ’60s . Visited the amazing farm of Anthonij Rupert wines, called Altima. Saw Eben Sadie prune a vine with a spade. Interplanted around 3000 vines across the Western Cape. Drank some amazing wines.
So with a busy 2018 behind us, what exciting things are waiting in 2019? Well, things I know of is…
Possibly going to Italy. Giving a talk on South African Chenin blanc in the Loire. Visiting Romania and Georgia. Harvesting the rescued Semillon. Harvesting our first vine garden we planted. Planting some insane new vineyards and varieties. Keeping them secret. Surf more. Mountain bike more (Arthritis permitting…) Dive more. See more vineyards. Save more old, abandoned vineyards. Write more blog posts. Drink more great wines. Read more about viticulture and wines of the world. Start to learn isiXhosa again. Start to plan to get my pilot licence – because who knows where we want to plant vineyards next!