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Last week we went up to the Cederberg to look at a potential site to plant vineyards. As the recent Shiraz Challenge showed us – the Cederberg makes some pretty damn good Shiraz.

Having the back seat driving through Malmesbury, Morreesburg and Piketberg, the scenes around us were stunning with the luminous green fields of the newly germinated grains and Citrusdal in all its splendor with the Citrus trees almost seeming orange with its crop on.

Going to the Cederberg almost always awakens a sense of excitement within me. Its majestic mountains, the beautiful road leading into it and the stunning views.

The air was cold, a mere 15°C at about 13:00, more than 1000m above sea level.

When we got to the farm the first thing I wanted to do is go and have a look at the soils. I asked for an excavator a few days ago, but was handed a pickaxe and a shovel instead. Not a problem. I’m a young man and there are four of us, surely we can make a profile hole or two…


Fast forward half an hour later and we have one hole, 60cmX60cm and only 60cm deep… tough job in the Cederberg.



Anyway, not to bore you with the details of driving around the potential site and all the discussions that followed about aspect, row direction, slope, rootstocks and clones, the soils are stunning with lots of rock – good for root development – and plentiful water is available. Next step – get a soil scientist.

The day was almost finished and there was just enough time to work in a quick wine tasting – stunning wines to put it moderately.

Driving back to our little house for the night the sun caught the vineyards of the Cederberg in a spectacular way, but somehow it worried me. This is not an old wine growing region (first vines planted in 1973, definitely not the vines I’m looking at at the moment!) and none of the vines are really old. So why are there so many vines infected with Grapevine Leaf roll virus? Was it bad planting material, poor mealybug management or what can be the cause that a pristine, cut-off-from-the-rest area could have so much leaf roll? In a recent article by Michael Fridjhon – WHY ISN’T SA DOING MORE ABOUT LEAF-ROLL VIRUS? he asked the same questions.

The newly planted Cabernet Sauvignon doesn't stand a chance with the infected block being its neighbour

The newly planted Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t stand a chance with the infected block being its neighbour

I think the Cederberg wine farmers should be vigilant and pro-active against this virus. I believe they should be able to claim that they are the one W.O. that is 100% virus free. That surely has some marketing value too?

So daylight was at its end, and the temperature was dropping fast. Soon the air temperature would be a mere 4°C, very cold for a lad from Paarl, but perfect for sleeping vines..




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