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Vintage report 2018

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Merlot 2018

Francois Viljoen, manager of Vinpro’s viticulture consultation service, summarizes the 2017-18 vintage as following: "Wine grape producers and cellars in South Africa are positive about the quality of wines from the 2018 harvest, despite challenging conditions resulting in one of the smallest crops in more than a decade. The 2018 harvest was really challenging, due to a prolonged drought, which some believe to be the worst in 100 years, accompanied by water restrictions and frost damage in some areas”.

Though we battled  during the season and had a significantly smaller crop, too, the quality turned out to be superb! Interesting enough, that the different batches from our vineyard were of such even quality, that we harvested everything within two days only, on 14 and 15 March - a novum for our winery

The different batches of our Merlots, as defined by Precision Viticulture, were eventually blended in January into our full range of wines, including Little Merlot, Bein Merlot and Reserve Merlot. And like the vintage before, a dash of fine Petit Verdot complemented the wines to perfection.

Vintage Report 2017-18

March - April 2018: cellar work

Fermentations of all wines went through easily. Due to the perfect ripeness of the fruit, we allowed them three full weeks on the skins. Eventually, we pressed on April 4, and the young red wines came straight into barrel. Again, there are very dense, well-structured wines, with deep dark color and excellent fruit-flavors. It seems the struggle with the drought in the vineyard has its good sides, too!

March 2018 - Harvest time!

It appeared that our vines adapted well to the drought, and the grapes could ripen to full maturity. It is a beautiful autumn, with cool nights and mild days, ideal ripening conditions.
Finally the time has come, and we harvested on March 13th and 14th, exactly 55 days after mid veraison. Like last year, the fruit had ripened very evenly, so we were able to harvest everything in two days. Admittedly, the crop was slightly down (7t/ha), but it was particularly healthy and of high quality.

January-February 2018

The new year started promisingly, with a refreshing little rain on January 1st. However, it was just 5 mm. To put this in the right context, one must understand that our vineyard consumes at this time of the year every day about 2.5 mm (= 2,5 lt per day and square meter). If there is too little rain, it naturally relies on the soil reserves. These are now running very low, which is why we support the vines with additional irrigation during this phase.
For the rest of the ripening phase, only once again, on February 13, a significant rainfall of 14mm brought some relief. Fortunately, the temperatures were comparatively moderate, and our vines develop surprisingly well and above all very healthy, as if they were desert plants. There is hope for a high-quality crop 2018 despite all the drought.

November - December 2017

As previously reported, we are currently suffering from a serious drought. Up to now, there was only half of the usual seasonal precipitation, the dams are emptying quickly, and Cape Town has implemented the strictest water restrictions ever. Fortunately, the rain we had until now was nicely spread over the entire budding and growing phase, and together with comparably moderate temperatures, the vines developed surprisingly well and are strong and healthy, with somewhat smaller, but all the more beautiful grapes.
However, our soil moisture sensors and satellite-based multispectral analysis of the vineyard suggest that the soil is now quickly drying up, and we decided it’s now time to start with additional irrigation during the last days of December. Of course, we rationed our (this year strongly reduced) water quota such that we now should survive the following maturation phase well … provided that all others stick to their quotas, too, and don’t overuse the dwindling reserves. Slowly but surely it appears that we might hope for another top-quality harvest, despite all the drought.
During this time, we also visited a few wine fairs in Europe, with Ingrid going to Berne and Basel, and Luca to Ghent and Zurich, and it was a great success - many thanks to all our loyal visitors and customers!

October 2017

The vines are growing fast now, and suckering, the thinning and removal of excess shoots, keeps us very busy during this time of the year. It's a tedious work, but definitely worth the effort, if you are aiming for quality.

September 2017

Winter was quite cold, and accordingly, budding occurred very evenly around mid of September. As mentioned before, however, the winter was also very dry, the upside being that our enemy no.1, the snails, only occurred in small numbers, and our special unit for snail control could sort out the rest :-)

July - August 2017

We are still waiting for the rain. The dams are on a record low, and the forecasts speak about another dry season 2017-18. August is traditionally the pruning month, and so we adjust this according to the dry spell, leaving only short bearers and little reserve buds.

Previous reports have been condensed to vintage reports for each year and can be looked up there.