It’s harvest time in the Boland.
That magical time of year when the vineyards deliver bountiful fruit that our talented winemakers nurture to become wine. In our world of wine, this is a crucial part of the journey of grape to bottle. It all begins in the vineyards.
It was one of our Heritage Heroes, Johann Graue, who instilled this knowledge at Nederburg, way back in the 1940s. He acquired Nederburg in 1937 and went on to revolutionise winemaking in South Africa. Understanding that fine wine can only be produced from fine quality fruit, he focused his attention on the vineyards, keeping obsessive records of vine performance, in order to identify the best possible plant material and also favourable planting sites for each varietal.
Way ahead of his time, he was an advocate of biodynamics and placed great importance in the health of the soil. He also knew that the quality of his wines would depend significantly on the quality of the grapes he produced. Going back to basics, he focused on the quality of his planting material. He was a great perfectionist and kept careful records of the performance of his vines, noting the impact of such details as specific location and particular clone. In this way, he built up a bank of information he could apply to optimally match cultivars with planting sites.
“At Nederburg, I’m walking in the footsteps of great legends in South African winemaking. That’s always on my mind when I find myself in the vineyards, taking in the majesty of nature and the changes that occur with each passing season,” says our viticulturist, Isabel Teubes. “There are those who went before me, but I’m proud to know that we’re pushing forward, using the technology of today, to build on the foundations laid by these pioneering individuals.”
The 2021 Harvest
When it comes to predictions for the 2021 harvest, Isabel says that they’re expecting top quality fruit and higher yields, compared to the previous few years during which the Western Cape experienced severe drought. “We received good rainfall during the winter months and growing season leading up to this vintage. The overall feeling is that the 2021 harvest will deliver healthy, well-balanced fruit, showing concentrated flavours and lively acidity, and amongst the reds, deep, dense colours,” she states.
“We started picking during the second week of February, with some top-notch Grenache making its way to the cellar, as well as Pinotage.”
Our winemakers also had some fun in the cellar, giving some of newbies JJ Fortuin and Luvellin Swartz the chance to try their hand at Pinotage punch-downs while their team cheered them on. Punch-downs are performed to break up the thick layer of skins, stems and seeds that forms at the surface of fermenting red wine, submerging it during fermentation to extract colour, tannins, flavour and aromas from the grape solids.
Watch this space as we reveal more about Isabel and our winemakers’ experience of the 2021 harvest…