The 2009 Harvest is in…

At Vrede en Lust we have just completed our 2009 harvest – the 8th harvest of our modern era! While the grapes are all in, Susan’s cellar team will still work full speed for the next month or so, until all of the wines have been fermented dry. At that point the red wines will start their malolactic fermentation and the whites either rest on the lees or spend some time maturing in 225L oak barriques.

The Vrede en Lust Harvest 2009 team: Oliver Herzer, Jason Holman, Susan Erasmus, Baron Willemse , Melvin August and Ansone Fourie

Oliver joined us from Germany: “Harvest 09 has been a fantastic experience on working in the southern hemisphere.  Funny people, great braai’s, great wine and the hottest harvest ever for me!”

Jason joined us from Napa: “Harvest 09 at VNL has been amazing!  Working alongside people who are truly passionate about wine has been a fun and enlightening opportunity.”

Ansone is a local winemaker and this was her second harvest at Vrede en Lust: “Big harvest, hard work and great expectations!” She is a woman of few words but great output!

The team together with Susan, Baron & Melvin have worked really hard, dealing with little sleep and grapes coming in over a 2 month period. Once our Elgin vineyards Bordeaux vines are mature the harvest will stretch to well over 3 months….

This is Susan’s 3rd full harvest here: “Every year at Vrede en Lust is getter better and better.  Definetely the most fantastic team in the cellar for 2009.  Thank you all for the hours and hours of hard work, late nights, enthusiasm and passion for wine that has made this season successful.”

“Ansone joining us for the 2nd year in a row – qualified from Elsenburg in 2006 and a star in the cellar.   Jason Holman ex lawyer turned winemaker from Napa and Olli, our 2.08 meter German friend! Not forgetting Baron senior cellar hand who is a pillar of strenght and hard work and Melvin (aka Cyril) youngest person in the cellar, but learning more about wine every day! The quality is looking exceptional and our first grapes from Elgin are blooming into wines full of promise… “

The 2008/09 growing season and harvest could be summarised as follows: A very wet, cold winter, followed by a cool, wet spring. The early part of summer was cool, with a lot of wind and some rain. It only really warmed up properly in February and March. We had just about no rain during Feb & March. So a very ideal season with a lot of promise!

Total harvest processed at Vrede en Lust – approx 500 tons, including our first proper harvest of Chenin Blanc from Caseys’ Ridge in Elgin and our first Chardonnay, Viognier, Semillon & Sauv Blanc from Caseys’s Ridge. As a matter of interest, the Viognier from Elgin came in exactly 1 month after the Simonsberg Paarl Viognier! In future we will have the option of co-fermenting Shiraz from Simonsberg-Paarl with Viognier from Elgin.

Red Grapes

  • Shiraz: 129 tons
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: 126 tons
  • Merlot: 89 tons
  • Pinotage: 43.5 tons (30 tons for Rose)
  • Malbec: 20 tons
  • Petit Verdot: 13 tons
White Grapes
  • Sauvignon Blanc: 28.5 tons
  • Chardonnay: 26 tons
  • Viognier: 13.5 tons
  • Chenin Blanc: 10 tons
  • Semillon: 6 tons

Our Sauvignon Blanc will be a 100% Elgin wine in 2009. From 2006 to 2008 our Sauv Blanc included grapes from Durbanville and Sir Lowry’s pass. For some bizarre reason Elgin (closer to the sea than most other regions!) does not fall under the ‘Coastal wine of origin’ and our wine had to be labeled as ‘Western Cape’.

The total grape harvest from our 3 vineyards came to about 750 tons. Etienne and his teams under Norman and George did a fantastic job. 250 tons of mainly red grapes were sold off to other wineries. Ken Forrester bought some of our rare Elgin Chenin Blanc and we are keen to see how the ‘King of Chenin’ fares with the cool climate Chenin.

We will make Vrede en Lust wines with just more than 40% of the wine produced and the rest will be sold off to other wineries.

When all our vineyards (except for the Grenashe we will plant at Vrede en Lust this year) come into full production by 2012, we expect to see the harvest reach 1,200 tons! That will allow us to focus on getting the very best fruit into our own wines, whilst supporting short term cashflow with grape sales plus the proceeds of wines sold to other wineries.