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Vintage report 2019

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Merlot 2019

Summary: The 2019 harvest season will be remembered as arguably the most contradicting season in many years. It started with a strange winter, at first with good rain in June, but then again unusually warm and dry in July and August. So we had to irrigate for the first time already during flowering, very unusual for Stellenbosch. And the weather remained unpredictable and windy until into the ripening season. Harvest quality varied accordingly across the Western Cape, but the yield was generally low. The early batches (rosé and white wines) mostly developed very well, but from mid-February the maturation slowed down - it seemed as if the four dry years before had drained the vineyards and drained their reserves. The sugar levels remained comparatively low, but the phenolic maturity and aroma development was good.

As a result, the 2019 harvest brought us well a very good rosé, while the red wines were not predestined for new barrels, so we exclusively produced Little Merlot from this vintage.

Vintage Report 2018-19

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, which is supposed to be available by end of May.
The red wine is of course allowed to mature further in 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 becomes clear 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 appears 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 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 at times strong wind. Despite the good rain in September, we found that our soils weren't filled up to field capacity, so for the first time, we had to irrigate a first time 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 rather uneven fruit set.
Rain was also less than half of the usual rainfall in these 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, on some farms 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 rainfall. Fortunately, September compensated for it with some decent rain, and the dams in the Cape are now just 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. The rainwater from the roofs 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!

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