It’s the most wonderful – and challenging – time of the year for a wine producer. While harvest began unusually early the past two years, this year’s vintage is right on schedule. On the 15th of January our team rose early to gather the first Chardonnay grapes, destined for our Sparkling Brut MCC. Subsequently we have picked Pinotage for our 2018 Pinotage Rosé (last year was our first vintage for this light, fresh rosé, which has been a runaway success), all of our white varieties and we are just about to complete harvesting our reds.
The severe drought in the Western Cape has been a serious concern for all of us. Fortunately, Backsberg is in a stable position in that we have our own water reserves to see us through the season. To our pleasant surprise, our Pinotage grapes are coming in at approximately 1,5g per berry. This is a reasonable yield, given the circumstances.
Both our Merlot and Shiraz are showing veraison beautifully. “This year has been a pleasure in that not all our grapes have ripened at the same time,” comments winemaker Alicia Rechner, “allowing us more time to pick with discretion.”
For the past year we have been using a test plot system during harvest. We have three test plots within each vineyard block, each consisting of 5-6 vines. From this, we are able to take samples which in turn allows us to make several predictions for the current harvest as well as collect comparative data for the future. The test plot system enables us to glean information about averages in bunch size, weight, yield per vine and residual sugars. We are able to do comparisons to see what comes out of the press – on the day of harvest – and quantify what we see. Essentially, this system assists with crop estimates and yield trends for future vintages, which ensures consistency year after year.
According to our enthusiastic viticulturist, Talitha Venter: “Harvest is something we work incredibly hard towards. During the months leading up to harvest, we need to ensure the vines are happy so that they produce healthy, top-quality fruit. Now it’s time to pick and enjoy the process!”
As soon as the grapes are in, it’s up to our capable winemaker to coax them into wines of distinction and finesse. In the meantime, we’re keeping our wine glasses buffed and ready to taste the first fruits of 2018.
All the best,