Etienne and his team was up before sunrise on the 2nd of February to start harvesting the 1st grapes for the Vrede en Lust 2010 harvest. It is our 9th harvest of the modern era at the new winery as well as Susan’s 4th full harvest at Vrede en Lust! Susan and Etienne have gained lots more insight into the various vineyards blocks, so focus on quality improvement is becoming easier.
The first grapes were Chardonnay from our Ricton vineyards located about 3km west of Vrede en Lust. It is a 6 year old block. The Vrede en Lust Chardonnay blocks will only get harvested next week. We have a total of 9Ha of Chardonnay vineyards and it is the earliest of our white grapes.
Next will come the Ricton Pinotage for our Jess Rose, then the Simonsberg-Paarl Viognier, followed by the Caseys Ridge Pinot Grigio in about 2 week’s time. We expect to harvest our Elgin Viognier around the end of Feb, in time to co-ferment with our Simonsberg-Paarl Shiraz. By then the pressure in the winery will become intense until the end of March, with a level of calm settling in by late April!
Etienne and Susan spent time in all our vineyards this morning and they seem very positive re the quality of the grapes at present. The harvest crop will be down quite a bit (maybe as much as 20%) this year due to wine, rain and disease damage due to the tough flowering conditions in spring. That is the thing with farming – you can not control the weather!
The Elgin vineyards are developing well. Along with the first crop of Pinot Grigio, we will also harvest our first crop of Elgin Shiraz.
Following our trip to the Rhone last year, I am personally very excited about the potential of the Casey’s Ridge shiraz.
The northern Rhone is a lot cooler than most of the Cape wine growing regions. If planted on lean, well drained soils in Elgin, the cooler climate shiraz should add a new dimension of elegance and minerality to our warm climate fruit.
We have 5.5 Ha (nearly 14 acres) under Shiraz in Elgin; 3.5 Ha planted on very lean Table Mountain Sandstone & Quartz soils next to the Kogelberg Dam, the balance on Bokkeveldt Skalie (ancient shale soils with a 70% gravel content) along the ridge.
The cellar expansion project is well under way and Susan is relieved that everything is working well with no breakages to date. More of that in a coming blog post.