The 2012 Harvest in numbers and graphs

The 2012 harvesting is now over and the winery is much quieter. Some of the red wines are still undergoing malolactic (secondary) fermentation and some whites are still busy completing barrel fermentation. Full details are to be found on our 2012 Harvest Diary. The 2012 Jess blend was completed last week and bottling is under way!

We crushed a total of 701 tons this harvest – our biggest crush to date. The 2012 crush is 22% larger overall than the 2011 crush, most of the growth due to our Elgin vineyards getting to more mature production.

Our winery’s maximum capacity is about 750 tons, but due to the late harvesting of the grapes from the Simonsberg-Paarl vineyards, things were tight in the winery this year. Susan and Ansone had to shuffle and plan tanks very carefully to make everything fit in.

In ‘normal (if there is such a thing anymore) years’ we would have been done with the reds from Simonsberg-Paarl a few weeks earlier, which would leave more space in the winery for the Elgin reds coming in. The cool early spring and early summer resulted in much longer hang times which should translate into some excellent wines from the 2012 crush.

All in all things worked out well though and we have started removing the 4Ha (10 acre) block 18 of Cab Sauv at Vrede en Lust, as we optimize production for the winery. That will reduce the Cab crop by about 32 tons going forward. It is really upsetting, as this 1999 block should have been in peak production now, but the quality was never there, probably caused by poor planting material during the planting bubble of the late 90’s.

We will let the block rest for about 4 years before replanting. Still need to decide what we will replant with, but we have time on our side for that key decision.

Reds still make up 71% of our crush, but that % will go down as production at our Elgin vineyards ramp up over the next few years. By 2013 we expect to take in the maiden Riesling and Pinot Noir harvests at Casey’s Ridge in Elgin and by 2016 all of our Elgin vineyards will be in full production.

Overall, we harvest quite a range of grape cultivars as the graph below shows. 14 different cultivars at present, going up to 16 with the Riesling and Pinot Noir next year. That is a big selection of grapes but it gives our winemakers choices and options. Some cultivars (such as Petit Verdot and Grenache) are used only as blending components. Other cultivars are produced for a very specific purpose, such as being the main blend component in Jess for our Pinotage.

The graph above shows the cultivars harvested by Wine of Origin, with the grapes from our two Simonsberg-Paarl (SP) vineyards shown in red and the grapes from our Elgin vineyards shown in green.

The Merlot production is split between the Boet Erasmus and the Red Lady; the small Malbec harvest this year will be split between the Boet Erasmus and the Mocholate Malbec and the Shiraz is split between the Syrah and a portion that is harvested earlier for our Jess Rose. The Cab Sauv goes to the Boet Erasmus with the excess sold of as bulk wine.

From the 701 tons crushed, we will end up with approximately 420,000 liters of wine. We will bottle about 270,000 liters (30,000 9L cases) under the Vrede en Lust label. The remaining 150,000 liters will be sold as bulk wine to other wineries.

Susan and Ans will have a few key decisions to make this year:

  • Blend the Syrah’s from Elgin and Simonsberg-Paarl or keep them separate ? Hard call as the Elgin Syrah is so beautiful in its own right.
  • Blend the two Viogniers or bottle them apart? Maybe an easier call as the Elgin Viognier has improved hugely in 2011.
  • Keep Sarah as an unwooded Chardonnay or add some Chenin and dash of Viognier to make it more interesting and unique?
  • Keep some of the registered single vineyard Elgin Chenin for a high end, cool climate chenin bottling?
  • What will we do with the Elgin Bordeaux reds – Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Merlot? Small blend for the Artisan Range or cultivar bottlings for same, or blending into the larger Boet Erasmus blend ?