We started the 2014 harvest at La Motte this week and after chatting to our Cellarmaster, Edmund Terblanche and Viticulturist, Pietie le Roux, I thought to share some of our initial expectations.
Of course the preceding winter plays a very important role in the quality of the grapes. A good winter is known by ample cold units and enough rain. The 2013 winter delivered on these conditions with low enough temperatures to ensure decent dormancy and plenty of rain to replenish water levels.
A moderate spring with a few cold fronts maintained cooler soil temperatures which resulted in late budding and slower initial growth. As a result, at La Motte the harvest is about ten days later than usual.
As temperatures rose and rains continued, we were concerned about disease, but with good anticipation, we have managed to prevent any problems up till now.
The high water levels resulted in lush growing conditions and canopy management has been very important. At the same time we are expecting a lower yield on La Motte as the cool and wet conditions resulted in stringy bunches and lower berry counts. Our Walker Bay vineyards, however, benefited from the rain and higher yields are expected on our Nabot farm in Bot River.
With widespread rain early in January, we will remain vigilant for the possibility of disease. Our main concern is unwanted botrytis, but up till now we have not had any issues.
Our harvest started with Pinot Noir shortly followed by Sauvignon Blanc and we are excited about the first harvest from our newly planted Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz vineyards in Elim.
Joining the winemaking team this year is a winemaker form America as well as a Norwegian Sommelier and we look forward to their contributions in the cellar.
Good luck to everyone involved with the South African harvest – may we be blessed with exceptional quality grapes!