Gerhard’s Harvest Report June 2020
We are now entering the rest phase, a dormancy period, for the vines as the soil becomes colder and the leaves have fallen. After harvest, vines begin to build up reserves of carbohydrates that are stored in the root and trunk of the vine. We support the vines to build-up carbohydrate stores through post-harvest fertilisation and irrigation. Once sufficient reserves are accumulated, the leaves begin to lose their chlorophyll, changing colour from green to yellow and finally to brown, at which point they fall.
To tolerate the colder winter temperatures the vines need to go into dormancy. Vines need to be exposed to enough hours of chill temperature for the bud break and normal spring growth to occur during the next season. During dormancy, the vines maintain basic metabolic function, surviving on the stored carbohydrates. Preparing the vines after harvest has an important influence on grapevine flowering and vegetative growth in springtime.
After a dry period that saw us irrigating vineyards where we were able to, we welcomed the rain and cold snap in early June. This bodes well for the winter period where we are optimistic that we will receive enough cold snaps for our well-rested vines to flourish for the new vintage.
While activity in the vineyards is quietening down, the cellar is a hive of activity. This year presented an unprecedented set of challenges, most notably in the shape of COVID-19. We had to introduce extra hygiene measures and strict social distancing. Fortunately, we received permission to continue with our harvest and proceed with the cellar work so that the wine wasn’t spoiled. Our team has been busy during lockdown, primarily racking the red wines out the barrels of their primary lees (lees are deposits of dead yeast or residual yeast and other particles that precipitate to the bottom of a vat of wine) after malolactic fermentation was completed.
Malo as we call it, or MLF, is the process where tart-tasting malic acid is converted into softer-tasting lactic acid. This fermentation is done by the family of lactic acid bacteria and during the process, it creates a rounder and fuller mouthfeel. With the relatively warm period we had after harvest we completed this process in record time and we are now about 90% through with just six-barrel batches still in process.
We’ve been busy evaluating all our white wines made this season. The winemaking team, together with our viticulture consultant, will taste all the wines blind and evaluate results across the various vineyards where we grow our grapes. This is a time for us to reflect on what went well and where we need to improve. We will conduct the same process for all the red wines from the beginning of July.
We have been finishing up the last cleaning of our crushing equipment and greasing our machines to keep them in excellent condition for the next vintage. Our topping program is in operation, where we top up all of the 2019 and 2020 wine, around 1500 full barrels of wine every three weeks, with a cleaning process afterwards. We also analyse and taste all batches of wine every 6 weeks.
We’re about to begin working on our wines for bottling with numerous tasting and blending days for the 2020 white wines and the 2019 red wines, but more of that next time.