The Harvest has finally begun! We’re approximately two weeks behind the normal annual timetable thanks to the weather.
It was a long cold winter with unusually high rainfall and, at Excelsior, a bit of snail problem! We were concerned in October about a touch of the dreaded downy mildew but managed to treat it in time before it became serious. All in all we feel we have been rather lucky – the vines have been growing steadily and healthily, with very little disease.
We started the harvest at the beginning of the month with the Sauvignon Blanc grapes. There are approximately 4kgs of grapes per Sauvignon Blanc vine. They’re the first to be picked as we want them to be a little ‘green’ with high acid and low sugars so that the wine displays delicious zesty flavours.
Yields on all the varietals are slightly down on last year but the important thing is that the quality is looking very good. This is particularly true of the Chardonnay grapes which are displaying fresh, vibrant flavours and lower potential alcohol.
Progress so far is good and we’re starting to harvest the Viognier grapes this week, our smallest white cultivar. It will be followed in 2 – 3 weeks time, depending on the weather, with harvesting of the red wine grapes.
At Excelsior we harvest all our grapes by hand. We do this for multiple reasons but mainly to provide sustainable employment in our community and because we believe people are better quality controllers than machines; machines harvest indiscriminately whereas people can pick and choose. It’s pretty impressive to watch the teams in action. There are four teams per vineyard block and fourteen people in each of those teams; two loaders and twelve pickers. Each ‘picker’ harvests about 1.3 tonnes of grapes per day, that’s approximately enough to fill 1,200 bottle of wine!
We’re looking forward to the Hands on Harvest Festival this weekend where we invite guests to come and experience being part of the harvest. Riana Nel is giving a concert in the gardens at Excelsior on Saturday night – do come and join us! Tickets are available on the door or in advance from Ernma firstname.lastname@example.org