The 1st of February marked the start of the 2008 harvest season at Vrede en Lust’s winery.
Following a long, wet and cold winter, the growing season was exceptional and forecasts for grape quality are on par.
The Chardonnay from block #3 (situated right next to the Manor House and Vineyard Terrace) was the first to be harvested. This was followed by Chardonnay from Block #1 next to the winery and our Ricton vineyard up the road. By the following Monday I was overwhelmed and excited by the first fermentation aromas coming from the cellar!
The first red to enter the cellar was our Malbec, which is an earlier ripening red cultivar destined for our two Bordeaux blends – The Classic and Reserve. Beautiful red berry flavours are already prominent on the wine. 37mm of rain over the weekend of 11 February brought the ripening on most of the cultivars to a halt, giving us a couple of days rest or rather calm before the storm.
Last week kicked off with a bang and all the Merlot from the farm was picked by hand, as is the norm for all of our grapes. We had dropped a fair amount of the Merlot crop to ensure even ripeness, as the spring cold spells and rain resulted in a significant level of uneven bunches.
Most of the grapes for the Vrede en Lust Jess, our fruity Rosé, have now been harvested, including the Pinotage from our Ricton vineyards about 3 km from Vrede en Lust. The Pinotage is showing early whiffs of guava and watermelon. We also harvested some Shiraz at lower sugar levels for the Jess, in order to keep the alcohol down whilst promoting freshness.
We have started taking in the first Sauvignon Blanc grapes, which came in from the Sir Lowry’s pass area between Somerset West and Elgin. Whilst tipping one of the grape bins into the receiving station one of the pneumatic pipes in the forklift’s inverter blew and ruined 1,2 tons of beautiful and scarce fruit! The rest of the Sauvignon Blanc that will come from Elgin and Durbanville is still busy ripening.
Along with Henry Skermand and Cameron Cupido, my 2 right hands in the cellar, we have two traveling winemakers joining us for the harvest season. Ansonné Fourie, who graduated from Elsenburg in 2006 and Melinda Szabo from Hungary. Both have traveled extensively and are contributing a great deal to not only the winemaking, but also the fun and enjoyment of teamwork during harvest.
That’s all for now, we will keep you updated on how the harvest proceeds. 26 February 2008 Susan Wessels