Wine producers at Le Grand Chasseur near Robertson are excited about the potential quality of the vintage for this year despite experiencing one of their driest seasons on record.
The Western Cape wine estate, which forms part of the Habata Agri concern, began harvesting in early February as they bid to produce another fine selection of wines.
Winemaker Carel Botha said they were delighted with the quality of the yield, despite the extremely dry period.
“We are very enthusiastic about the harvest this year and feel certain that 2017 can be a year with memorable wines,” he said.
“Although it was one of the driest years, we believe the wines will have excellent quality and superior flavours.”
While the yield has been good, Botha said there was always the element of risk as the harvest was subject to the vagaries of nature until it was “safely in our cellar”.
Even then, he added, the wine-making process had to be carefully followed.
“It is complex and expensive. Dedicated staff and specialised machinery are required before nature takes its course during the fermentation processes.
“Only with a lot of know-how are we able to produce a quality product.”
Botha said machinery played a big part in the process, with about 95 per cent of the grapes machine harvested.
“The balance are hand-picked, depending on the cultivar and availability of resources,” he said.
“Harvest begins in the early hours of the morning, just before sunrise, when the temperature is at its lowest.
“This is done to increase the quality of wines as oxidation is better controlled when it is cooler.”
He said the harvested grapes were delivered to the cellar without delay, where the product was processed to the tune of 200 tonnes a day.
“That is the equivalent of 200 000 bottles of wine.”
Botha added that they would harvest 4 500 tonnes during the season, producing 3.3-million litres of wine.
“Harvesting of the vineyards and the first cellar processes take about three months.
“After about another two months of wine-making for white blends and two to three months for reds, the wine will be ready for bottling.”
He said most of their wines were sold in bulk locally or exported, while they reserved their best barrels for a limited number of special bottles.
“We produce a broad variety of wines and most of the country’s well-known blends. Our personal favourites are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, White Muscadel and reds like Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot.”