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from vineyard and cellar

July 2020 - a further fall-back

Unfortunately, our government's corona policy is rather arratic. Any proper forward planning is impossible. On the 12th of July, all alcohol sales were suddenly banned again. Of course, also travelling is restricted and therefore personal cellar tours are unfortunately not possible. But instead, we invite you to come with us on this virtual barrel cellar tour via YouTube (see below :-)

June 2020 - the new normal has started

Fortunately, lock down has been further relaxed by 1st of June. The insight, that a hard lock down to contain Covid-19 doesn't really work in South Africa, seems to have prevailed. Gatherings are still forbidden, but as long as you wear a mask and practice social distancing, you can move around to do your business, although only during daytime, but at least. Most businesses have opened again, and even wine can be sold - uff!
Only the virus couldn't be bothered less. Its development is now exponential, the peak is yet to come and there will be many sad things to happen before the curve flattens out - exspect another few months of this "new normal"!.

But we have good news on the wine front: We just released the new Pink Merlot 2020 and the Merlot Reserve 2018, which are now available from the farm and soon in our export destinations!

May 2020 - a boer maak a plan

Corona lockdown continues throughout May. Although it has been eased somewhat, there is still a strict curfew and the sale of all "non-essential" consumer goods is banned, such as Flip-flops (!?), cigarettes and alcohol. At least we have recently been allowed to export again. Since employees have to stay mostly at home, we roll up our sleeves and do everything ourselves - virtual tastings, racking, bottling and labeling. The videos show how this works with us ;-)

April 2020 - CORONA BLUES

As everywhere else, Corona has turned our world upside down. South Africa is under a complete lockdown since March 26, provisionally until begin of May. Everything is closed except grocery stores. Curiously, all cigarette and alcohol trade is also banned, which even extends to exports. The whole wine industry is paralyzed; we don't even get bottles, which we urgently need to bottle our rosé.

But it is really bad for the poor people here. Many are already living from hand to mouth anyway, but now that all the work is down there is nothing for them to earn and therefore nothing to eat! Of course, relief supplies like food parcels and other support were officially promised, but the authorities are completely overwhelmed. Let's hope that at least they use the time to beef up the medical infrastructure accordingly before the big corona wave is flooding us all.

March 2020 - Main harvest

A perfect autumn 2020 in the Cape Winelands produced an evenly ripe and particularly healthy crop on our farm, and we finally harvested the Merlot grapes for our red wine on March 5th under ideal conditions. Quantity was a bit down in comparison to long-term numbers, but quality was great and the young wines are really promising, with great concentration, intense colour and luscious aromas. The video will tell you more: While the young wines are fermenting, we usually rack and bottle the previous vintage. Since the 2019 crop was small and no batch did particularly stand out, we decided to produce only Little Merlot this time - but don't worry, just little in name not in quality! Of this, 5775 bottles have been bottled on 19 March 2020.

February 2020

The year has so far been rather unusual, with moderate temperatures -  except for a few 35-degree C days - plus unusually high winds in January. Rain is still in short supply, but the regional water dams have enough reserves so that we could irrigate appropriately. And the vineyard seems to like it, looking healthy and strong.
As always, the rosé harvest marks the beginning of our harvest season, this time on 12th of February, slightly earlier than other years. Quality and quantity is significantly better than last year, and we are optimistic about the main harvest. It looks like this will now be around 5th - 10th of March. 

2020 is a jubilee year:  20 Years Bein Merlot!


20 years ago, we bottled our first Merlot. Admittedly, it was not a masterpiece, but it was the beginning of our new career. A lot has happened since, and there are many good memories. A musician friend and regular visitor even composed a little ballad about it. We have completed it with images and created a jubilee music video.
Just click on the link above to watch it.
(Music: Thorsten Eden www.diepullies.de)

November/December 2019 - early summer

The early summer of this vintage is characterized by nice weather and moderate temperatures, perfect for us and the vines. However, we saw no rain for weeks and were already afraid that the drought in recent years would repeat itself. But at the end of October, a decent cold front brought some good 80mm of rain, enough water for flowering and the subsequent important growth phase. After all, the vineyard developed a strong canopy and a good, balanced fruit load.
In line with the early budding, Veraison started earlier, and the first red berries appeared just before the New Year. Accordingly, we expect harvest to be around 10 days earlier than our long-term average.

September/October 2019 - Spring

After a dry August, our vineyard started with a "half empty tank" into the new season. Luckily, a good rain on September 11 brought about 25mm of precipitation, and budding started evenly, though somewhat earlier than usual. Now, the busy time begins with all the suckering and intense canopy management.

August 2019

Weather in August was mostly sunny and again, comparatively dry. So WATER remains the topic No. 1 for the farmers in the Western Cape, even if the dams of the area are now 66% full - after all, 6% more than the previous year.

June - July 2019

We had to be patient, but eventually the winter rains arrived. Although not as much as it used to be 5-10 years ago, but at least the dams of the area are already 60% full by the end of July. In-between bright-sunny winter days, ideal for vineyard work: It is time for pruning.

April - May 2019

During this time of the year, we are always busy in the cellar with bottling the previous vintage, as well as the new Pink Merlot 2019, which is supposed to be available by end of May.
The red wine is of course allowed to mature further in the barrel - and for the better: during the first racking in June - just after completion of malolactic fermentation - it surprised us with beautiful black berry flavors and a delicate texture, despite the difficult season that lies behind us. Nevertheless it appears that we won't produce our full range of wines from this year's crop but a Little Merlot.

March 2019

This year, main harvest was on 6th of March. We could harvest everything in one day, as the crop was even smaller than expected with just 5 tons per ha. It seems that the four dry years in a row take their toll, together with the sometimes hot and unusually windy conditions during the ripening season - admittedly not optimal for our Merlot. Nevertheless, the quality was okay and we look forward to the development of the wines in the cellar.

February 2019

Hot days, unusually high winds and too little rain characterize this period. On 11th of February, we started harvest with the grapes for our rosé - and they came in in excellent quality. The new Pink Merlot 2019 should be ready by June for early drinking pleasure - good so, as the 2018 is sold out :-)

January 2019

Up to now, the vineyard is handling the dry conditions very well. And the new year brought even relief with some rain, 16 mm all in all, a good average for January. Veraison started early this year, together with the begin of the new year, and was almost completed by mid January already. However, it becomes clear that we must expect a significantly lower crop than usual. Above this, due to the observed millerandage during fruit set, there are still many green berries left in the bunches, which will have to be painstakingly removed at harvest. On the other side, the remaining fruit ripens exceptionally well, and our first sample juice showed already excellent color, so we are quite positive!

October-November-December 2018

October and November were characterized by changing temperatures and strong wind at times. Despite the good rain in September, we found that our soils weren't filled up to field capacity, so for the first time, we gave a first irrigation already at flowering in order to support this critical phase. But despite this and the actually very even start of flowering, we eventually observed a bad and uneven fruit set.
Rain was also less than half of the usual rainfall in the last three months of the year. On the positive side, temperatures were throughout moderate.
Interesting enough, despite the lack of rain, we observed in our area - just over Christmas - some downy mildew infestations (Peronospora), at places actually quite heavy, though luckily, we got off lightly.

September 2018: Spring

July and August were unusually warm and dry again. Although ideal weather for pruning, it only brought about 30% of the usual seasonal rainfall. Fortunately, September compensated for it with decent rain, and the dams in the Cape are now well over 60% full - okay, not yet full, but at least double than a year ago. Due to the wet and rather cold September, budding was comparably late, but eventually very even. Now we are looking forward to the new season!

June 2018: Winter

Beside the release of our Pink Merlot 2018, June also brought the first decent rainfall in this year. The dried-up soils are replenished and the empty dams receive their first good inflow again. Nevertheless, we decided to implement a rainwater-harvesting installation at the house and cellar. The rainwater from the roof is collected in large tanks and processed through a special filter system, before it is fed into our water network. This makes us hopefully less dependent from the municipal water system - above this, our water tastes better than city water, and is without chlorine or other additives, the best for use in a wine cellar!

Reports of previous vintages can be viewed here: Vintage reports