The 2022 Harvest continues to unfold, and the excitement around the current vintage is tangible across South Africa’s Cape Winelands. Energy levels are high and our team have been in the vineyards assessing, harvesting and ensuring that the 2022 Brookdale wines are picked at optimal times. For chefs, the best dishes begin with the best produce and the relationship between a chef and farmer is of the greatest importance. This is also true for winemakers and the partnership with their viticulturist. Only together can you create the finest wines from superlative grapes through careful planning of the desired outcome.
Alessio (who joins our harvest team this year from Elsenburg, South Africa’s premier agriculture training institute) filled us in on the current status in the vineyards…
FIRST DAYS OF HARVEST
With summer off to a slow start this year, the grapes have had the chance to develop on the vine in cooler conditions for longer. For Brookdale, harvest 2022 began on the last day of January, after one of the biggest heat waves recorded in the Cape Town area suddenly accelerated ripening across the winelands. However we do not only pick for ripeness, but also for the complexity and flavour. This requires careful attention to harvesting days and times for each varietal across the estate. For example, we pick some sections in a block earlier than others to add an acid component which aids blending at a later stage for a well rounded, complex wine.
At Brookdale, we started with some of the younger vines at the end of January – the Grenache Blanc and Marssane. Young vines are typically the first to ripen as they tend to be more reactive to weather when compared to older, more weather resistant vineyards. The Marsanne and Grenache Blanc where both whole bunch pressed and are now in the cellar fermenting.
LET IT RAIN (BUT NOT POUR)
On the first of February, our teams handpicked 10 tonnes of Chenin Blanc for the 2022 Mason Road. It was a tremendously busy morning with all hands on deck to gather the Chenin grapes for optimal sugar and flavour. Our harvesting was then abruptly put on hold because of 10mm of rain on Thursday.
Rain at this time of the year is great for red grapes because it gives the vines a much needed boost in ripening, however with white grapes it could mean challenges with cracking berries or rot. Luckily, there was not enough rain to cause any berries to swell to the point of cracking in our white varietal blocks. The gentle rainfall was followed by good wind the next day which dried out the vines and prevented any rot from setting in. The red varietal blocks have therefore benefitted from the rain, and the white varietals have avoided any adverse effects making for the perfect – storm… (we couldn’t resist).
TONNES & TONNES
Last week (7-13 February 2022), harvest was once again in full swing on Monday morning as another 10 tonnes of Chenin Blanc made its way from the vineyards to the cellar, followed by another 10 tonnes on Tuesday and a further 7 later in the week. Currently, across all varietals brought in to date, we have harvested over 40 tonnes with many exciting blocks yet to come in. Stay in touch to see how harvest unfolds over the coming weeks!