Harvest 2024

Harvest 2024

So harvest started with a burst of action and we’re in the thick of it. It appears to be a fast and compact season. I was at a tasting with a few local winemakers last week, and they were joking at how harvest almost always seems to catch the teams by surprise. It’s not like the vines are hiding anything, but the comfortable gap between “it’s a week away” can collapse into a day or two if there is a spike in the temperature. And there have been some hot days, and weeks, in February.  

Our local vineyard space, the Walker Bay, is an interesting case study in the diversity of the Cape, when it comes to harvest time and picking dates. By the second week of February, Bot River was solidly in the swing of harvest, while the Hemel-en-Aarde wineries were only starting to pick a few blocks of white wine grapes. In the meantime, the vineyards where Hermanuspietersfontein wines come from, which is famously “cool climate,” were still – by the winemaker’s estimation – a week away from the start of harvest. On the other side of the “cool to warmer” spectrum, the Swartland, a warmer region, had pretty much completed all its harvest by the middle of February.  

This goes to show how “the Cape is not the Cape” when it comes to calling harvest conditions, nor indeed harvest quality. The diversity of our geography leads to very diverse microclimates. You may recall that, when we had those floods last year September, Cape Town was nearly dry as a bone and untouched by the damage. That’s less than 100 kilometres away, but worlds apart in terms of weather impact.  

And so it is with our harvests. When a harvest is declared “excellent” or “average” we need to be clear on which part of the Cape we are referring to. There is also a distinction to be made between what is referred to as the year’s “white wine harvest” and the “red wine harvest”; since white varieties typically come off the vine earlier than the red varieties and may miss (for example) later season heat spikes that compromise quality.  

In fact, it has long been my feeling that our white wine vintages are more consistently good than the reds because we live in a warm area (by wine world standards) - and if you want to make high quality wines, most grape varieties prefer cool growing and ripening conditions. 

So far, as of the middle of February, we are looking at a good vintage by the accounts of the winemakers and growers I have talked to. We had enough (lots) of rain last year, so there is hydration in the soil. The build-up to the harvest was even. Yes, harvest did start a little earlier than many previous years due to the February heat, but the grapes are healthy.  

But, as I say, harvest is not over for many... and those thumbs are still clenched. And on the other hand, as the saying goes, the best harvest is the one that the marketers still have to sell!  

Southern Right 2023 Sauvignon Blanc
Southern Right
R 209.00
Van Biljon 2018 Cinq
Van Biljon
R 568.00
Beyerskloof 2022 Pinotage
Beyerskloof
R 132.00
Maanschijn 2023 Herbarium Red
Maanschijn
R 292.00
Eenzaamheid 2022 Vin Blanc
Eenzaamheid
R 155.00
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