A Hot and Dry Harvest at Rietvallei

This year all the wineries in the Cape are telling a similar story. That this year was hot and dry, with grapes being picked about 10 days earlier than the average.

While the first half of the summer was relatively mild, January saw temperatures above the 30ºC mark exacerbating the dry conditions that we experienced since August last year. Grapes ripened early and we were picking by 20 January – not having much time for the holiday cobwebs to be brushed out …

We started off with Sauvignon Blanc, and the fact that we begin harvesting at 02:00 means the afternoon heat is avoided and no hot fruit ends up in the cellar.

The early harvest can be attributed to the warm conditions the Robertson Wine Valley experienced in August. August is a crucial month as this is when flowering starts, the first step in the cycle culminating in the picking of the ripe grape. The warm conditions boosted the whole cycle, bringing everything forward, hence the early harvest.

What is also characteristic about this growing season is the amount of wind we had. Yes, the wind does dry out the soils. But on the other hand it fans the vineyards, keeping them cool, and the breeze also kept potential diseases at bay which resulted in minimal spraying.

Harvest time means working around the clock and little sleep. But the energy and enthusiasm among the teams in the cellar and vineyards are contagious, and really inspires one through each waking hour – of which there are many! There is nothing like watching your grapes come into the winery and seeing, tasting and smelling them on the journey towards becoming wine.

One of the positives of an early harvest, is that we can get our new wines on the market during autumn. The first wines are already on the market, our Stonedale Sauvignon Blanc 2015 having been released earlier this month and the 2015 John B Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Rosé being bottled as we speak and to be released just before Easter.

On the red side, the Stonedale Merlot 2014 joins these wines on the supermarket shelves. So be sure to look out for them and tell us what you think.