Our winemaker, Altus Treurnicht, (3rd from the right, back row) pictured here with the rest of the cellar team, shares his thoughts with us on the 2016 harvest:
"When I reflect back on this harvest, two things come to mind:
- The difficult growing conditions in which the vines had to ripen their fruit due to water scarcity and above average temperatures which occurred from October 2015 right until mid-February 2016, with January being one of the hottest months.
- The dreadful fire in January which took almost 2 weeks to bring under control - an event producers around the Simonsberg area will remember for some time to come.
Above average temperatures and the low soil moisture under dryland conditions, due to low rainfall levels during the winter months, resulted in harvest starting even earlier than last year.
We started the 2016 harvest by picking the “Varkplaas” (Pig Farm) Pinotage on 14/01/2016. The wine from these grapes was blended together with other batches to produce the 40th vintage of our famed Pinotage Rosé.
From the vineyard samples we collected prior to harvest, it was evident that the weight of the berries was lighter compared to 2015. The value differs between cultivars, but in the above-mentioned vineyard a decrease of 20 grams per 50 berries was detected compared to grapes picked on the same day last year!
Our last picking (Cabernet Sauvignon) came in later than last year, on 24 March. This was due to the fact that day and night temperatures dropped from mid-February onwards, slowing down the ripening process. The occurrence of pest and diseases were limited due to the dry weather conditions.
The dry conditions also made it necessary to do juice adjustments as early as possible, before alcoholic fermentation. In some cases, the white grapes which in the past had high natural acidities, needed adjustments.
We’ve done a lot of selective picking this year to ensure that grapes were harvested at optimum ripeness and to eliminate any berries with sunburn. In the cellar, we’ve done a significant amount of whole bunch pressing to ensure that we yield only the best quality juice for fermentation.
The potential alcohol of the white and red wines this year is lower compared to previous years. Due to the smaller berry size of the red grapes, we are optimistic about the quality and believe that this will be a vintage that will produce age-worthy red wines.
This year will be remembered by all of us as THE one that had its own unique challenges, not only in the vineyard, but also in the cellar."