Ok, time is an uncontrollable steamroller at the moment! With so much happening in the vineyards and the viticulture scene, there is little time to sit down and write about everything that is going on. Fortunately, I have some time now.
In my post in January I mentioned all the firsts of 2018 and the start of 2019. I mentioned things planned for this year, and man did some of that change in a short while!
Sadly we didn’t harvest that phenomenal Chenin blanc on the slate soils in Philadelphia this year. The farmer is just not interested in producing excellent wine and to cooperate long term. Sad indeed, but with every door that closes another opens. We instead got our hands on the oldest Grenache blanc for the 2019 harvest for The Horsemen brand.
I am no longer going to Italy – my client changed his mind for no reason. I ain’t talking at the Chenin blanc congress – politics and the fact that I have too much work. I might still go to Georgia. The struggle with communication and willing hosts is a real hurdle…
So how was the 2019 harvest? I disagree with some remarks in the Vinpro press release – especially of the good quality and good chemical analysis. That always sounds good and the small berries sound even better. But smaller berries due to ongoing drought does not mean better quality. What I found was that the vineyards in the Swartland and Paarl struggled immensely. The analysis was at their worst and the vineyards really struggled. Not all the vineyards though. Where there has been a focus on regenerative farming and really looking after your soil for the past years, those vineyards did very well with good cropping and good analysis. Any vineyard with leafroll virus suffered and barely reached any proper sugar levels with no fruit maturity. I still can’t understand why the industry does not have a stricter policy towards eradicating this virus.
The always vigorous vineyards in Stellenbosch and Elgin performed very well, where the dryland vineyards needed a bit of help with crop reduction to keep the plants going. NDVI’s played an integral role throughout the season, and managing vineyards with the help of satellites really makes a difference, especially in the difficult years.
Composting vineyards in the winter had an enormous impact on fruit quality – yet again confirmation that we need to feed our soils instead of fertilizing it.
The rains in the middle to end of harvest in Elgin caused major crop loss due to rot. There wasn’t much we could do with 45 + 12 +15 mm of rain in 3 weeks.
I won’t go into the details of Chardonnay and Shiraz, but we had horrendous budbreak across the Coastal region due to an abnormally dry and hot July (supposed to be mid winter but we hardly had any rain and temperatures went above 25 degrees Celsius for a few days) with a cold and windy start to the season – it was a constant struggle throughout the season, with some vineyards ending up with less that 2 tonnes per hectare… The vineyards in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley was hit especially hard. And then on top of that they suffered from massive veld fires. I know they are glad the season has ended…
From the middle of harvest up to now I have been very busy with new developments. Soil surveying with the soil scientists, doing GIS studies and building new models have kept me busy, along with working out the different cover crops and getting them in the ground all across the Western Cape. We are busy with very exciting projects with The Sadie Family Wines in the Swartland, the West Coast and the Skurfberg, huge projects at Kalmoesfontein at Adi’s, new developments at Overgaauw Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, new vine gardens in the Voor Paardeberg for The Blacksmith Wines and BlankBottle, revamping the vineyards of an old historic wine estate in Stellenbosch with Duncan Savage and loads more!
The coming months we will be working on soil health, making loads of compost, planting new vineyards, feeding cover crops, putting out soil ameliorates for maintenance and planning new developments for 2020 and 2021, with a few new field blends in the mix too…
O, and we released our new wines in a joint venture with The Blacksmith Wines. It is called “The Horsemen”. Four single varietal wines made from vineyards and varieties that can take on the apocalyptic climate change like the Four Horsemen! Grenache noir, Carignan, Chenin blanc and from this year Grenache blanc. Find them at Publik