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Harvest full of promise in Durbanville wine valley

Harvest time in the Durbanville wine valley is in full swing, despite a very late start this year – partly due to the cooler weather in January and February.

Thys Louw, owner-winemaker of Diemersdal Wine Estate, says their harvest time started on 3 February – more than 10 days later than previous years.

“This is applicable to vineyards from Vredendal to Plettenberg Bay,” he says.

However, says Louw, although considered to be “late”, this was the first harvest in almost 15 years that is regarded as a “normal” year in the Durbanville wine valley.

“There were a lot of contributing factors. This first sign that we would have a normal, later harvest was the late winter until September.

“This contributed to a cold blooming period,” he says.

According to Louw, vice-chair of the Sauvignon Blanc SA committee and a board member of Wine of South Africa, the heat wave this past weekend will not have significant effect, as all the grapes for their white wines, including sauvignon blanc, have already been harvested, while most of the red cultivars are still on the vines.

“It is not only a decent size crop, but we also have impressive flavours – especially the sauvignon blanc cultivar boasts with fantastic flavours,” he says.

Last Wednesday morning at Meerendal it was time for the oldest vineyard in Durbanville, a 66-year-old pinotage vineyard, to show what it’s got.

Meerendal boasts the oldest vineyard in the Durbanville ward which forms part of the Wine of Origin Cape Town, says Bennie Howard, marketing manager of Meerendal Wine Estate.

“The pinotage heritage block vineyard at Meerendal was planted in 1955 and is still producing amazing wines,” Howard says.

This is one of only three remaining old pinotage vineyards in South Africa that are still producing high quality wine.

These old pinotage vines are from the original plantings of Prof Abraham Izak Perold, the father of pinotage, that were made available to wine farmers at that time.

Meerendal made the first wine from this vineyard under the Heritage Block label in 2005 and is proud to preserve the heritage of this truly unique variety and this vineyard at Meerendal, Howard says.

“It is classified as a single vineyard and forms part of the Certified Heritage Vineyards project of South Africa,” he says.

“It is quite amazing that the grapes took almost three weeks longer to achieve full ripeness this year, as the normal harvest date the past 18 years has been between 2 and 6 February.

“This is due to much cooler weather that has been experienced in the Durbanville area the past six weeks. This has contributed to healthy grapes that are full of beautiful rich flavours,” he says.

According to Howard they usually start to harvest the sauvignon blanc cultivar at the end of January, but also only started last week with two blocks.

They have also already harvested their pinot noir and chardonnay for their methode cap classique, as well as pinot noir en pinotage for their rosé wine.

Merlot, shiraz and the other pinotage blocks are not yet ready to be harvested, he says. They also expect to harvest the new blocks of cabernet sauvignon, which was planted three years ago, even later.

However, the harvest looks promising when it comes to flavour.

“Durbanville is known for its colder weather and flavoursome wines. This year, due to the cooler weather in January and February, the fruit flavours of the wine developed beautifully,” he says.

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