For the past 4 years, the Western Cape has been experiencing a severe drought. During winter of 2019, we did welcome more rain than in the previous two years and were very blessed to receive over 500mms. Unfortunately, the lasting effect of the drought could not be completely remedied, as the deeper layers of soil were still drier than ideal levels. Our method to assist the vine was to continue working in compost from our deep bed system. By incorporating this mixture into the soil, we are continuously increasing natural carbon sources, which in turn improves natural water holding capacity. This compost mixture is also rich in fungi, which help as a decomposer and naturally turn the soil. Earthworms and other beneficial insects also contribute to this process.
Budburst and flowering were earlier than usual, starting with the first buds at the beginning of September. Towards the end of the flowering season there was some rain, but fruit set was luckily still even. Given that we are located in one of the windier areas of the Cape Winelands, we encourage vine growth by spraying our own bio-fertilisers as soon as we spot the first leaves. Farm Manager Christiaan changes his recipes every year, and will always be busy fermenting chicken manure, fish extracts from the restaurant and soaking Russian comfry at this time – the final product provides the vines with all of the nutrients and minerals needed for strong growth.
The remainder of the growing season was ideal, with enough sunlight and not too much rain – which could lead to mildew. At the end of January, the South Easterly wind did howl through the property, which led to a lot of leaf loss and even that of some grape bunches. Not much could be done to mitigate this, except to spend more time in the vineyards and divide the blocks into different sectors in preparation for harvest. We first removed fruit in risk of sunburn and monitored each block very closely.
Our 2020 harvest commenced on the 29th of January and reached full intensity from the 5th of February. The harvest conditions were positive with enough sun, not too much rain and only a few very hot days. The whites came over a period of about 2 weeks, with the reds following immediately after – this made harvest logistics a little easier. All harvest dates were determined by taste in the vineyard, waiting to achieve the ideal balance between phenolic ripeness, potential alcohol and acid. In terms of yield there was some variation, but overall we saw an increase of approximately 10% on 2019.
As we don’t spray any chemicals in our vineyards, the natural fermentations all began without any hassle and quite a few of them will likely still continue until the beginning of spring. We are excited about the quality and believe that, with the small yields and fresh acids from this vintage, 2020 will be a great one to keep stored away for quite a few years!