The most topical issue currently in South Africa is electricity or rather the lack of it. It affects most industries and wine is no exception. We are in the harvest season, which is our peak time for electricity usage.
When the grapes are harvested, they need to be destemmed and crushed. Machines do this. The grapes, especially the white varietals, also need to be cooled down, They then need to pressed and settled, both of which require a lot of electricity. We cold ferment our whites to preserve fruit flavours, and this, once again requires electricity.
With the power supply being erratic, we invested in a 35 kilowatt generator. We actually bought it during the 2008 electricity crises and it has since been gathering dust.
The generator allows us to run crucial pieces of equipment like the crusher/destemmer and our cooling pump. We also have a tank capacity of close to 5 million litres. We keep all these tanks full, with water if necessary and this has a temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. As the circulation pumps run, the cooling water passes through these tanks. The tanks are our cooling “battery” and this enables us to maintain constant temperatures despite a shortage of electricity.
We are busy looking at alternatives such as solar, but this will take time to install. We are coping however, but it does require good planning.