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Harvest time hurrahs

Harvest hand skills

It’s that time of the year when wagons labouring under loads of grapes roll along the valley roads to deliver their crush-ready berries to the cellars. We speed dialled one or two wine makers before going to print, to find out how the harvest was doing. By all accounts it’s going to be a good year. Here’s what they said:

DP Burger, manager and wine maker at GlenWood:

“As a rule GlenWood usually starts with grapes sold to some of the prominent bubbly producers in Franschhoek. The initial feeling was that the 2017 crop will be a bit lighter than 2016, but this is definitely not the case here. To date, with all Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes picked, we look to be on par with the 2017 yields.

“Starting approximately 1 week later than 2016, the vintage did catch up quickly and harvesting dates, especially on the whites, are now 3 days ahead of 2016.

“Quality is right up there with beautiful flavours and firm acidities throughout. Suddenly the light at the end of the harvesting tunnel is definitely a train on its way! Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet etc etc are all there, ready to be picked!

There will be an interesting couple of weeks ahead.”

Craig McNaught wine maker at Stonybrook Vineyards:

“With the weather leading up to the 2017 vintage, the vines have been pretty stressed, which means the grapes are getting to optimal ripeness before the sugars are too high. This is a really good thing for our style of wine, as we like ripe flavours without having super high levels of alcohol. I’ve been really happy with the quality of the grapes that have come in so far, particularly the Chardonnay. I think 2017 has the potential to be a great year, provided we don’t get massive heat in the next few weeks.”

Clayton Reabow, wine maker at Môreson Family Winery:

“Thus far in Franschhoek the 2017 vintage looks promising and most certainly a better vintage than 2016. Although a water deficit as a result of the on-going drought continues, we have been very fortunate not to have experienced a damaging heat wave such as December 2015 prior to the 2016 vintage.

“Overall, vineyards that have received sufficient rainfall have recovered well and we are experiencing a 25% increase in crop. Ripening patterns are also stabilising and are in some cases 7 to 9 days later than last year.

“The fruit is very healthy and packed with flavour. We should see as good a vintage as 2015 if patterns continue, especially on Chardonnay.”

Wikus Pretorius, wine maker at La Petite Ferme:

“The 2017 harvest started off a couple of days earlier for La Petite Ferme. We picked some of our earlier Sauvignon Blanc at lower sugars to retain the freshness. I was really surprised at how good the acids were even through the drought. It’s been relatively cool and this definitely helped. Berries seem to be smaller and yields per ton are down, but the quality so far is excellent. I anticipate being about 10% up in volume from last year.

For now it seems that the ripening is going nice and slow which is great for the reds.  If the weather holds I expect 2017 to be a good one.”