Straight from holidays to harvest time

Christmas holidays, New Years eve and the South African school holidays are all but a thing of the past. With the mercury hovering in the high 30s for the past week and the farm still buzzing with a blend of international guests and locals fortunate to have extended leave, our cellar and vineyard teams are beginning to focus more specifically on the small matter of the harvest.

Harvest time madness on the farm

It only happens once a year at is the crux of what will determine the quality of the wine in your glass over the next few years. For anyone involved in the wine industry it is an exciting and nervous time. Vineyard managers keep a wary eye on the weather, knowing that a few days too many or too few on the vine could make all the difference. The cellar teams will be making sure that they are ready to receive tons of grapes in the wee hours of the morning, with an loose guideline of a schedule provided by nature, and which is subject to last minute changes! Winemakers are considering the fruit that they will have available to work with, already having identified promising varietals and possible new ideas. The hard work of the past six months, the weather conditions, investment, planning and praying are all now hanging on the vines in the form of soon-to-be-ripe bunches of grapes.  Although the wine making process continues throughout the year, there is no denying that the harvest months of February, March and April are key for South African wine makers. As that old and overused saying goes: “you can’t make great wines from poor grapes”. The next few months will decide the success of wines that may only be released in four or five years time!

It is pretty clear that it is a great time for those who work on the farm. It’s challenging, tiring and rewarding. But from your, the consumer and wine lover’s perspective, does it matter to you? As wine marketers and makers, we have this opportunity each year to share some of the reasons for our passionate pursuit of the ever-elusive ‘great’ wine. This can be through photographs, videos, blogs and articles, access to the cellar for visitors and various other tools. But how much do consumers really want to see, hear or find out about?

What would you like to find out more about?

We want to engage with consumers (current and potential) of South African wines. We want to share our enthusiasm with you in a way that you find relevant and interesting. That is not up to us alone to decide. So we are asking you to tell us if there are things that you would like to know more about, or see for yourselves.

Is there a question that you’ve always had? Or perhaps something you’d like to see in more detail? As we all know, there is a lot of overinflated nonsense in wine marketing communications, much of it relating to what goes on during wine making. When you have some insight and knowledge of what marketers are talking about you have the power to discern what is actually of relevance when you choose your next bottle.

We’re here. Harvest is around the corner. Let’s talk.

Please leave your comments below and join in the 2011 Fairview harvest.

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5 Comments on The vintage approaches… and so?

  1. Jane Mort says:

    Do you do cellar tours? It would be nice to do cellar tour  - to see what happens when the grapes are brought to the cellar, to see what actually happens, maybe taste a few tank samles, etc. Much nice to see what really happens rather than a video of DVD. I do realise that this is when everyone is frantically busy, very hot and grape stained………….

  2. Lesley Cox says:

    Very interested in information about the harvest.  Could be interesting to follow the story of one grape e.g Sauvignon Blanc.  When did you make the decision to harvest (e.g night before), degrees balling, how many tons, how many people took how many hours to complete it, how you stored it, hand sorted it, quality and yield?

  3. Hi Lesley,
    Thanks for your comment. We actually did a series on the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, starting in January of that year. You can check them out on this blog, or on our YouTube channel .
    Have a look and let us know what you think. The clips did not prove hugely successful in terms of viewers, but that may be for various reasons!

  4. SANDI BRYANT says:

    Hi there. How are your soils fed? Do you use largely organic fertilisers and feeds? Does Fairview operate a wormery, particularly in view of the organic waste from the kitchen of your fabulous Goatshed restaurant? May the harvest be a joyful and rewarding one.

  5. In terms of fertilizers, we actually use a combination of manure from our goat herd and the organic matter remaining after winemaking (stalks, pips and skins) which is mixed and composted. That is used when new vineyard plantings are done, as well as a little boost when required.
    We also only use approved sprays when we need to protect the vines from mildew or insects. Our farming practices are all but organic, without actually having organic certification in the vineyards.
    That wormery idea may well be worth looking into…

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