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2018 is already half way. We had a challenging harvest with the extreme drought, but since April we saw normal rainfall patterns return – a good sign that we will have a good winter. I think it will be critical to still prune and sucker for a “dry” year, even though we might get decent rains this year. The vines has been under severe stress the past 3 years, reserves are low and the vines are tired – we must give them at least one year to just take a sort of gap-year..

A dry farmed Shiraz bunch in the Swartland – yield reduction for the region was between 30-55% this year…

From the middle of 2017 through to now (mid 2018) we have been busy with insane vineyard projects. I can’t wait for these vines to produce fruit for us, unfortunately that will only be in 2020/2022. The first vine garden was planted in the Voor-Paardeberg last year. It is planted for Tremayne Smith at The Blacksmith Wines. A field blend of Grenache, Cinsaut and Carignan. Deep granite soil of the Paardeberg foothills, designed in an amphitheater with the contours, processed and created with my DJI Phantom 4 and Pix4D software. This was such an exciting design, that we created another one this year!!!

The first vine garden – Grenache, Cinsaut and Carignan

The second vine garden has been cleared of alien vegetation (Blue Gum, Popplers and reeds). Cover crops has been sown for the winter – planting will commence in 2019.

The second vine garden is a project I am also heading with farmer André du Toit for The Blacksmith Wines and the always exciting Pieter Walser of BlankBottle. A total sum of 20 varieties will be planted here in a field blend..

On the same farm we revived an old Chenin blanc vineyard dating back to 1974. It was the first harvest in almost 20 years for this vineyard and the wine produced shows a lot of promise! Read about this vineyard here and about the harvest here

Some more “firsts” for this harvest was another vineyard that I have been reviving with farmer Roelof Joubert in the Klein Drakenstein mountains in Paarl. Tremayne Smith of The Blacksmith Wines will be making this extraordinary Chenin blanc, planted on Granite terraces in 1995 – read about the transformation here 


More “firsts” was another Chenin blanc vineyard – this time not an old vineyard, but a first harvest Chenin blanc in Philadelphia, planted in 2015 in Schist. Again, Tremayne stepped up and when I showed him the vineyard in this remarkable setting, he immediately said “Let’s do this!”.

It is also the first release of a joint venture wine between myself and The Blacksmith Wines, called “The Basilisk” – a 100% Durif from Paarl. The first tasting was done by Christiaan Eedes of Winemag –

The Blacksmith The Basilisk 2017
Approximate retail price: R205
From Paarl Durif. Dark fruit, dried herbs, earth and spice on the nose. Super-concentrated yet pure and fresh, the tannins particularly grippy, the finish savoury. Total production: 680 bottles. Alc: 13%.

The production will increase slightly but will always stay very limited.

The Basilisk Egg before bottling

Lastly, I have written about scanning soils with an Electromagnetic scanner here, and we are using this technology more and more to take the guess work out of soil mapping (this doesn’t replace soil mapping, it makes it more precise)

On all the new projects we take on we maximize the input of technology – soil scanning, soil scientists, satellite imagery, GIS and terrain analysis, drone imagery, 3D drone models, new clones, virus free plant material – you name it!

This is also a very cool project – soil scanning done, lots more to do…

The red areas indicated higher EC readings – mostly due to change in texture, or the presence of salts

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