Our vineyard team harvested the last of our Cabernet Sauvignon from Casey’s Ridge vineyards in Elgin on Tuesday. There will be no late or noble late harvest from Casey’s Ridge in 2014. It would be nice to believe that the harvest is now over. This is not the case. Inside the cellar they will still be processing the last of the grapes for at least the next 2 weeks and then some!
No harvest is without its challenges and 2014 was certainly no exception. Despite being surrounded by rows of tanks, Susan explains that the harvest can be made difficult if too many grapes ripen at the same time. The last of the white grapes from Elgin were harvested on 25 March, compared to the last white grapes from Simonsberg on 19 February – indicating that we have about a month’s longer hanging time for ripening in Elgin. This helps with the phenolic ripeness of the grapes. March is always very challenging – trying to makes space for all the whites and reds ripening simultaneously.
With more than 80mm rain our harvest team worked very hard on the few warm, sunny days to bring all the grapes in. Often in the morning Norman Lemmetjie, our Vineyard team manager, would be at the office before 5:30 preparing for the days work and leaving after 18:00. Our permanent harvest team on Vrede en Lust, is led by Norman and consists of 12 workers. On Casey’s Ridge we have a similar size team led by George Pieterson. On certain busy days we had an additional 45 people on both farms working to ensure that the grapes arrived at their optimal in the cellar for Susan and her team. The cellar team would then go to bed very late at night.
We are very happy with the quality of grapes we harvested this year.The biggest improvement was in the Bordeaux red cultivars from Elgin and in volume the “real” Riesling . In total we harvested 755 tons, of which 720 tons was processed in our cellar at Vrede en Lust. Susan and Ansone both have a confident smile. We are not sure why, but watch this space!
What most wine drinkers forget, is that this is only the start of the wine making process for 2014. Blending of the Jess is on our immediate schedule as well as labeling all the new vintages for our Wine Club shipment in May, which is one of our biggest of the year.