The start of new year is like a new chapter in a book, waiting to be written, filled with only aspiration and ambition. In South Africa the new year also brings the start of harvest and a new vintage. And the 2022 vintage is brimming with confidence and excitement.
I checked in with a few winemakers to hear their thoughts on the imminent harvest.
Thys Louw owner and winemaker at Maastricht in Durbanville tells me “Harvest so far looks great.. after rather a wet proper cold Cape Town winter the vines have had enough rest, and therefore vigorous awakening. The grapes are healthy, although some rainy days over the summer keeps us on our toe’s with regards to powdery mildew. Looking forward to what is to come.”
Lukas, the winemaker at Groote Post in Darling muses, “This longer, slower ripening period of the grapes allows for even ripening and better aroma, fruit and flavour development.
We expect greater complexity and elegance, riper tannins, and a favourable acid/sugar balance. I am especially excited about this year’s
Sauvignon Blanc as the conditions to date are perfect for healthy, top-quality grapes. With a bit of luck, we will not experience any extreme heat waves in the months to come.”
Ken Forrester, aka Mr Chenin, is also optimistic “We’re looking at an extraordinary harvest but it’s a little like flying the take off and flight are relatively straightforward but you really do need to land in an orderly fashion and the next 4 weeks are ceucial to the whites and about 8-10 weeks for the reds. The weather is predicted to warm up. It appears the rain is over (for Stellenbosch) we have a larger than usual crop as a result of the cooler weather and ongoing rains and it’s all very healthy – so far so good there’s a promise of a great harvest.”
Richard Kershaw, is one who loves to get geeky with the weather patterns, notes that as the average temperature in 2021 was down, the temperatures were more consistent, rains more persistent and there was lots of cloud cover. This all led to a later bud break and more uniform flowering season. There was also less wind damage. Richard predicts a very late and slow harvest in Elgin.
Mike Dawson, Journeys End winemaker agrees “the weather in preparation for harvest 2022 has been ideal. We had a long cold winter in 2021 with lots of rain and wind which was not as severe during our flowering. The canopies are looking spectacular and we are readying ourselves for a large crop of excellent quality grapes.”
Jaco Engelbrecht, one of South Africa’s most knowledgeable viticulturists notes that over all it looks promising but doesn’t necessarily share the sentiment of a particularly large crop. There is a bit of disease pressure with some powdery mildew around. He is a little concerned about the hot weather we are currently experiencing as there isn’t much water around, which the vines will need to compensate the heat. In summary he predicts a good harvest with good quality grapes!
Between the pandemic and our gracious government the South African Wine Industry has been dealt a bad hand over the last two years. But in true South African style, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It looks like another plot twist and this chapter will bring good fortune to those so determined and deserving . I wish you all the best farm workers, winemakers and viticulturists for an abundant and glorious harvest.