31 January 2007

Early Cape Vintage

I like to time my visits to the Cape winelands for February as I enjoy seeing the bustle of the grape harvest, but it seems I will be too late this year when I arrrive on 11 February . "Soaring temperatures during the week of January 22nd brought early harvest activity in the Stellenbosch area," reports Kim Maxwell, for wine.co.za.

Jan Boland Coetzee of Vriesenhof says 2007 is 'the earliest harvest since '67, for me personally. It seems to be between 10 and 14 days earlier. The main cause is the heat. We had an inch of rain on New Years Eve, and nothing since. We call that the vetmaakreëntjie. It’s the combination of no rain, and the sudden heat we had last week. We were getting up to 37 degrees for two days.'

Vriesenhof started harvesting on January 23rd, and the cellar activity hasn’t stopped. ‘We’ve finished with Chardonnay and Sauvignon. The Sauvignon was in first, which is unusual for us, and then the Pinot Noir. So now we’re starting with Pinotage, and some Merlot is also ready,’ Coetzee reports. Are there sunburnt grapes? ‘No. Luckily not. The analysis at the moment is still unbelievable,’ he says. ‘pHs are fairly low, which is kinda nice. It’s a lot cooler,’ he said of the weather on January 29th. ‘We’ve been starting at 4am, because of the heat. We were harvesting right over the weekend.’

Full report at http://www.wine.co.za/news/news.aspx?NEWSID=9637&Source=News

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