Vrede en Lust Harvest 2010 Report

Its been 10 weeks since the first Chardonnay arrived at the cellar in early February. The maiden Shiraz harvest from our Elgin vineyards were the last grapes through the crusher. Susan and her team have crushed 680 tons of grapes brought in by Etienne and his vineyard team.

Petit Verdot hanging right at the end of harvest

This is the largest crush we have handled to date, made possible by the cellar expansion project currently under way. By the 2011 harvest we should be able to crush 750 tons! The 680 tons of grape yields 460,000L of wine. We will use about 50% of the wine for our own brands and sell the rest as bulk wine.

We decided to crush all of our grapes this year, as opposed to selling some as we have done in the past for two reasons: we could process more grapes this year and most importantly; we expected the bulk prices to go up somewhat. I think the bet was a good one as the overall harvest in the Cape is down significantly in 2010.

In Susan’s words: “Usually our harvest starts slowly, picking up speed towards the end of Feb, but this year we dived in at the deep end. We took in all the Chardonnay from our Ricton vineyards (where we sold of some of these grapes in the past). Our Malbec came in a bit later this year, but the wine shows the same intricate berry and fruit notes enjoyed by our Mocholate Malbec fans.”

“The red vineyard blocks ripened slowly during the beginning of February, but a heat wave towards the end of February accelerated the harvest. We had our hands full juggling the white grapes from Elgin and picking all our Shiraz from Vrede en Lust at the same time.”

“We had spells of rain in between, keeping Etienne and myself on our toes juggling harvest dates and when to pick. Our crop from Elgin came in much smaller than expected. The whole industry has suffered losses due to extreme wind damage in November last year. The grape quality from Elgin was top notch and the Sauvignon Blanc is on its lees as I write. The 2010 vintage is looking very promising!”

“We are busy expanding our cellar and had extra fermentation space especially for our Sauvignon Blancs, as well as our new German press. Looking back, I am not sure how we coped with only one press!!!”

“Our red grapes weren’t hit that hard in terms of wind damage and we had a record harvest from our Ricton vineyard. I am very excited by the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines working its way through malolactic fermentation.”

“The team in the cellar has been exceptional! Long days, late nights, more pump-overs than ever! They have played a pivotal role in keeping an eye on everything during the fermentation period. Great teamwork definitely makes winemaking more fun!”

“We took in the last grapes from Elgin yesterday (1.6 tons of young Shiraz), pushing our total tonnage to just over 680 tons. THE MOST WE HAVE EVER DONE!!!”

“So in general, while the 2010 harvest is smaller, our production is up as we did not sell of any grapes and the quality looks promising. Keep an eye out for the Jess Rose 2010 and the new Sarah Unwooded Chardonnay 2010 due for bottling in April and ready for your consumption early in May!”

For those interested in stats:

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Simonsberg-Paarl Tons Yield (L) Yield %
Chardonnay 44,7 26 809 60%
Viognier 13,6 7 471 55%
Shiraz 130,7 94 092 72%
Merlot 54,2 39 005 72%
Cabernet Sauvignon 165,4 119 063 72%
Pinotage 61,9 37 148 60%
Petit Verdot 17,1 11 936 70%
Mouvedre 67,8 48 816 72%
Cinsaut 22,7 16 321 72%
Malbec 20,9 15 049 72%
Sub Totals 598,8 415 710 69%
Elgin Tons Yield (L) Yield %
Sauvignon Blanc 56,3 30 988 55%
Chenin Blanc 7,1 3 894 55%
Chardonnay 1,0 600 60%
Viognier 6,8 3 755 55%
Pinot Grigio 6,6 3 300 50%
Semillon 2,1 1 137 55%
Shiraz 1,6 1 100 65%
Sub Totals 81,9 44 774 55%
Total 680,3 460 484 68%