The 2022 harvest is finally safely in the cellar. Harvest started almost two weeks late – we only started with our white grapes on 15 February. This was after a very small batch of low-yielding Pinot Noir on 31 January for our Skaamgesiggie Cap Classique. I had expected a late start as Spring last year was quite late and the cool, wet weather continued through November and into December resulting late and slow budding and a flowering season which was, as usual, plagued by windy, wet conditions and some hail as well. These extreme conditions were again far worse on the old Uintjieskuil vineyard. The hail damage there was the main reason for the extremely small yield we got from blocks UK3, 4, 5 & 6.
The wet, humid conditions did pose a great risk for Downey mildew during the early growing season and we had to adjust to work hard to keep the vines disease free. Dehan and his team worked very hard at this and many nights of overtime working to ensure all was done in the small window periods of less wind and no rain.
The rain in spring caused havoc to all farmers in the Overberg, most wheat farmers were still harvesting in December. For us it meant that weeds were a bigger problem than usual and we had to adjust to manage this. Rainfall in October was 81 mm, with 51 mm in November and 52 mm in December.
We were very lucky though with the January and February conditions which were dry and moderately warm (we did not get the same heat wave that had the Boland sweating by end of January), ensuring good vine and grape health and gentle ripening. Unfortunately, the tough Spring conditions have resulted in a smaller than average yield with our Pinot Noir for Skaamgesiggie yielding only 2 tonnes/ha and our Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc about 3,5 tonnes/ha. However, this is slightly improved over the last 2 years and the quality makes up for it. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are packed with flavour and the cellar was filled with a delightful, pungent aroma of crushed fig leaves while we were processing the grapes. The white wines in the cellar are looking great and we’re very excited to see how they turn out after a few more months developing in tank and barrel.
We only started harvesting our Shiraz grapes on 17 March, the long wait was worth it, with some stunning Shiraz grapes as well as some beautiful Grenache. The Shiraz quality, in particular, is looking fantastic, with full peppery flavours even in the berries we tasted from the vines. The colour of the grapes and juice is dark and intense with low sugar levels at full phenolic ripeness which will create rich, flavourful wines of around 13% alcohol-exactly what we expect in our cool climate conditions.
Warm wine regards,
Conrad Vlok, Cellarmaster