Harvest has been on the go since the beginning of February. The first grapes to be picked are always Pinotage, which this year are in excellent condition (berries are firm and flavourful, without any heat damage). Thanks to the big picking team we’ve been able to get through the blocks really quickly (over 220 tons were harvested in the first four days alone). Preliminary tastings of the fermenting juice indicate that the quality is going to carry through to the finished wines.
The most complex issue we’ve had to deal with so far is the decision over when to harvest the Sauvignon Blanc. This, Cloof followers will know, grows on a southerly slope at Burghers Post, with the vines in roughly NE-SW rows, which means that the side of the row that catches morning sun ripens much faster. Monday’s analysis of the grapes indicated that the acidity was still far too high, but with Friday and next Tuesday being the only picking days available, we had to make a visit to the vineyard.
So, yesterday Peter Duckitt (viticulturalist), Christopher van Dieren (winemaker) and I spent 30 minutes wandering through the vineyard, tasting grapes from random bunches on both sides of the rows. The range of flavours was amazing, and so were the different degrees of ripeness throughout the vineyard. If the weather remained cool we could be OK if we waited another 7 days. However, a few very hot days could kill the freshness we want in the flavours (the Sauvignon gets blended with Chenin in Daisy Darling).
Eventually we decided that the risks of waiting until after the weekend would be too great, and given a choice between slightly under-ripe or slightly over-ripe we’d rather have the zippiness of the former. The decision we made involved nearly R200,000 worth of grapes, but it remains a little bizarre to call it work when three grown men are eating grapes at midday on a Tuesday.