Harvest team 2012 gets their hands dirty

The 11th harvest in Vrede en Lust’s modern cellar is now fully underway! The team started bringing in the first batch of Chardonnay destined for the Vrede en Lust Sarah 2012 wine this morning.

In the winery we have from left to right: Melvin August (cellar worker), Susas Erasmus (winemaker), Anthony Mbombo (cellar worker), Ellen Lubbe (intern winemaker), Danel Morkel (intern winemaker), Baron Willemse (South Africa’s cellar worker of the year 2011), Chris Spurdens (intern winemaker) , Ansonè Stoffberg (assistant winemaker) and Etienne Buys (viticulturist).

The intern winemakers are all South Africans this year. Ellen was the Dux (top) graduate from Elsenburg in 2011. Chris graduated from the University of Brighton in 2009 with a BSc Hons in Viticulture / Oenology. Danel graduated from the University of Stellenbosch in 2010 with a Bsc in Viticulture / Oenology. We sincerely hope they really enjoy their harvest at Vrede en Lust and make a big contribution to the team overall.

No, Susan did not develop a ‘boep’ during the summer holidays, she is 6 months pregnant! Congratulations to her and Arnè ; we hope her 6th full harvest at Vrede en Lust is kind to her and the unborn little Erasmus. With a viticulturist (at Plaisir de Merle next door) as dad and winemaker mother, the little one is really born into wine.

I was lucky to take this photo of 2 Kaapse grysbokke in one of the Cabernet blocks on Ricton this morning. The block is in veraison and I hope they were more interested in the leaves than the green berries!

These are two females but there was also a male deeper into the bloc. It is always great to see them around! Lets hope they do not end in some-one’s sights.

The Chardonnay grapes harvested today comes from a 3.5H (nearly 9 acres) block at our Ricton vineyard. The Ricton vineyard is located next to Babylonstoren, about 2 km up the road from the winery. We expect the Vrede en Lust Chardonnay that goes into Marguerite to start coming in next week.

Ricton is also classified as Wine of Origin Simonsberg-Paarl, with a more uniform, lighter,  decomposed granite soil that is well drained, lighter soils. We also grow Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage (for Jess rosè ) and Cincaut on the farm.

We harvest the grapes by hard into plastic lugs. The lugs are emptied into half-ton plastic bins and then transported to the winery. At the winery, the bins are stored under-roof and out the sun. The bins are next rotated into the receiving hopper, where the grapes are weighed prior to release to the automatic sorting machine.

In the sorting machine, the bunches are destemmed (the bunches for Marguerite will undergo whole-bunch press) and the berries sorted. The berries that make it through the sorting machine then gets pumped though the mash cooler and into one of our two presses.

The pressing process takes nearly 6 hours under low pressure. Next the press juice gets pumped into the selected fermenter, in the white wine section of the winery. Susan will decide when to kick off fermentation, which will take place at low temperatures for nearly 3 weeks in order to preserve the more delicate flavours of the white wines.

The harvest starts today with the Chardonnay and will end in early April, probably with the Cabernet Sauvignon from our Elgin vineyard. A long harvest ahead – we hope and pray it will be a great one!