Chamonix Sees Late Harvest Of Exceptional Quality

Slow ripening of fruit in the vineyards due to a late summer has resulted in Franschhoek-based estate Chamonix anticipating harvest 2021 to kick-off 10 days later than average, with the Pinot Noir grapes being snipped in the first week of February. Neil Bruwer, Chamonix winemaker, says he already anticipated late onset of harvest when spring and early summer remained comfortably cool.

“Last year saw generally cool conditions on Chamonix throughout the vineyards’ various developing phases,” says Bruwer. “There was the cold wet winter during which we had around 800mm of rain, followed by a truly mild, brisk spring. And when we began looking for the summer heat-waves of November and December, well, they were just missing in action.”

During those cool months of spring and early summer, bud-break, flowering and berry-set occurred evenly without disruption and stress due to unexpected hot spells. “When we had some summer rain in November and December the temperatures and air moisture remained low, keeping downy mildew and other diseases at bay,” says Bruwer.

From the second week of January the Cape heat set in. “We’ve had a few days well into the 30s (degrees Celsius), but in-between the hot days the south-easter has fanned the vines. Farming on the mountain slopes between 300m and 400m above sea-level has the wind making its presence known, playing a major role in freshening-up the vines and the ripening fruit.”

Stefan van Rooyen, left, CEO of Chamonix, and winemaker Neil Bruwer.

Ripening has been even, with well-formed, tight bunches showing health and weight. “Chamonix will be producing Cap Classique for the first time in quite a while, so the Chardonnay for the base wine will be picked in the next few days seeing as you need big acids,” says Bruwer. “And as far as the varieties for our signature wine ranges – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – go, the Pinot beats the Chardonnay in the ripening race this year.”

Stefan van Rooyen, CEO of Chamonix Estate, says that despite the current gloomy atmosphere in the wine industry due to the persistent lockdowns of wine sales caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chamonix team is exceptionally motivated to bring in a top-quality harvest.

“We are all committed to making this a brilliant harvest in terms of wine quality as well as the process of guiding the grapes through the cellar system,” says Van Rooyen. “We all want to ensure adversity brings out the best in the Chamonix team so that once the situation changes, we can send-out great quality wines into the market that underscore the premier image and status of the South African wine industry.”