I have had little time to sit down and reflect on what is going on at the moment. It has been a hectic 4 months. In my last post in May, I was very excited about all the vineyards that we would develop and plant in the winter season. We planted a total of 15 vineyards, including numerous interplanting projects, covering around 22 varieties. All has been done, with the exception of 3 vineyards still to be planted. I have put together a few series of photos to showcase the progress and change some sites has undergone. The most dramatic is the ‘T Voetpad vineyard in the Kapteinskloof. The vineyard dates from pre-1900 and has suffered immensely under the drought the last 4 years. We have put enormous effort into this vineyard, with very satisfying results.
But lets continue from the previous post. Remember this photo?
Well, this is a vineyard now, and all 5.5 hectares has been planted.
The vines have all been planted in the West Coast. So much work has gone into these vineyards. I cant wait to taste the wine (2022)… O, and we installed a new Weather Station there too!
Next up was the new development in the Voor Paardeberg. The block is split into two sides, one that faces North-East/East (red field blend of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache noir, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Mourvedre, all for The Blacksmith Wines) and one that faces South-South-West (white field blend of Verdelho, Semillon, Chardonnay, Marsanne, Roussanne, Gewürztraminer, Clairette blanche and Grenache blanc, all for BLANKbottle Winery). In the last post we where still ripping the soil. Now the vines are already budding!! We are still busy planting the last bit of Echalas and head-train posts.
These guys where responsible for the planting of the vines. It is rare to find such a group of jokers while doing very hard work! Look at the guy third from right! Loved going here while they planted.
My involvement at the new development in Paarl, headed by Duncan Savage for British Entrepreneur Tim Rudd, under the name Brookdale, has been challenging at the start, but I feel more comfortable on the farm now that I believe I have figured out what has transpired here for the past 5 years. It is always difficult taking over a project that you didn’t plan and design, but I have fallen in love with the vineyards here.
The vineyard team is headed by Adam Dirkse, aka “Ampie”, and they are a force to be reckoned with! The farm is taking beautiful shape. We are planting a new vineyard in the coming week. We suckered the first vines this week, a young Grenache noir vineyard facing North.
Cutting the planting lines also started this week on the contours. This is going to be a stunning vineyard!
The cover crops at Mrs Kirsten vineyard in Stellenbosch at first seemed like a failure, but as the season progressed we became increasingly positive. We cut it down this week to preserve moisture in this old dry farmed Chenin blanc vineyard
Furthermore we planted a new field blend at Eben’s place. His first vineyard on the farm called “Slangdraai” (“Snakes bend” in English – makes me think of my favorite movie “Almost Heroes”!!!) are a square planted vineyard. It has it’s own challenges, but in this drought we are facing and in the wake of climate change, I believe this vineyard will thrive.
Now to one of my favorite vineyards in South Africa – ‘T Voetpad
We took Palomino cuttings out of the ‘T Voetpad vineyard this year to graft. We will interplant with this material in the same vineyard next year. Interplanting is crucial in the longevity and sustainability of any vineyard, especially old vineyards.
Our cover crops grew amazing this year. Eben bought a special little BCS two wheel tractor to work the vineyard, as it is very narrow and tractors struggle to work there. Our seedbed preparation was done with this little tractor and its rotovator attachment. It worked phenomenally. At first, just as with Mrs Kirsten, we didn’t think it will be a good cover crop year.
We cut all the cover crops down last week to prevent excessive competition with the vines. We used a cutter bar on the BCS for this. Worked very well.
Well, there you have it. This is but a fraction of what has happened, but at least you have seen some updates and new vineyards for now.