Saturday, February 5, 2011


It's 19 days in counting since I received the first grapes in the cellar. Nineteen days only!! It feels like I have been harvesting for ever. To date I received a total of One Thousand Eight Hundred tonnes (yes tonnes!) of grapes and that's about a third of what's still to come.

My first grapes, Chenin blanc, came from Paarl on 18th January and all indication at the time was that the grapes were ripening at low balling. I was very happy with the quality and level of fruit. The Chenin tank has long been 'forgotten' (lying low in the cellar since it's finished fermenting). This will make part of Nederburg sparkling wine, Cuvee Brut. The rest of the fruit continues to come with impressive quality.

In days to follow the harvest machinery moved to 2nd, 3rd and 5th gear (skipping 4th) and day in, day out, my day (night) was running into the late hours. This makes part of the fun, the pressure, long hours, challenges, risks, u name it. It may all sound nice and easy when we talk about the finished wine but gosh it takes a hell lot of 'shouting', talking, running, walking, eating, anxiety, ... and making wine.

After Chenin blanc I brought in some Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and more Chenin for Nederburg Lyric. I am proud of this wine and the 2010 vintage received Platter's super-quaffer of the year title. Lyric is roughly 60% Sauvignon, 20% Chenin blanc and 20% Chardonnay. The blend is off-dry and varies slightly vintage to vintage.

Last week saw the first of the barrel fermented Chardonnay coming through the cellar doors. All good although with smaller berries but good concentration. It's early days to comment what's gonna happen with the rest of the Chardonnay.

I was very excited about the Pinot Gris grapes I received from Darling area. I made my first Pinot Gris last year under the Nederburg Winemasters Reserve range and it's currently available in Canada. Can't wait for it to go local!

Main project so far is FairTrade and Organic wine fermenting in cellar. Looking pretty so far and can't wait for the final thing..

As you can imagine I haven't had much sleep lately and my weekends are spent in the cellar. It's an honour and privilege to be involved in such a complex and focused business of making wine and above all still NATURE RULES. We had a pretty bad run of heat in the past few days and are 'praying' for cooler weather. The harvest has not been affected so far but if the heat persists we could loose crop in some areas, especially the dry land areas.

If I have to predict the most challenging wine to make this year it will be Sauvignon blanc, because it's a grape that shines under cooler conditions. The most interesting grape to work with will be Chenin (bush vines) because of it's versatility and it will present good blending options.  I 'm looking forward to both.

"Cheers Everyone" and wish me luck!