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Oldenburg Harvest 2019!

4 March 2019  -  Oldenburg Vineyards

It’s here again - harvest, that is. Such a funny thing; it happens every year at more-or-less the same time, but to us it somehow seems a once in a lifetime event. Truly, it is a momentous event for all of us.
Every single task that has been performed in the vineyards over the past year now culminates in the picking of the grapes. The post-harvest irrigation last year set the vines for their winter rest; the pruning over winter allowed for more homogenous shoots and evenness in the bunches; the suckering in spring allowed the vines to focus their energy on the young bunches; the precise canopy management (where leaves are removed to allow the sunlight to penetrate - but only just enough, to still prevent sunburn on the grapes). And finally, selective green harvesting to remove unwanted bunches.
And then finally, we reach the day of optimal ripeness - measured by sugar, acidity and tannin levels. The critical decision of exactly when to harvest is made by both measuring the variables accurately in the lab, and also by Nic and Etienne tasting the grapes. Then comes the call: Let’s pick! Time for Zelda and her team to swing into action.
The season so far has been relatively good: cooler, with a bit more moisture than is ideal - but not too much. Our only real issue was the October winds, which damaged our Viognier block and left us with only enough grapes to make a barrel or two. Often, the flip side of lower volume is better quality - so we will have to wait and see if that is the case with the Viognier 2019. Regardless, this year’s Viognier will be on strict allocation (and best obtained via the wine club). It is too early to know the full effect the winds have had on other blocks, but we anticipate harvest volumes to be down for the 2019 vintage. With a bit of luck, the inverse quality uptick will hold true.
Our new cellar (finished and signed off about 3 days before harvest started - you have to love building projects!!) has performed really well. Nic is happy, so I am happy! We have quite a few brand-new toys, such as a generator to keep the power on when Eskom does its best to keep the lights off. There’s also a “chiller room” - no, not a place for my teenagers, but a large cold store used to cool the grapes down quickly as they come in from the field, ensuring maximum freshness and also taking the pressure off the crushing and pressing processes. We also have a few smaller tanks, currently in experimentation mode - I’m already hearing that our Grenache Noir is looking spectacular!
There are still a few weeks left before harvest ends, with the various cultivars ripening at their own pace. Nic is excited by how our Cabernet Sauvignon is looking, and we have started taking in some Merlot that is also showing great promise. The past week has seen much of our Syrah being picked, with a mixture of whole bunch and whole grape fermentations on the go. One Syrah block in particular is causing much excitement - it will be great to taste this in the coming months, so watch this space! Our Chardonnay (which is in excellent shape) is heading to the barrel, and our Chenin Blanc is due to arrive for some “chilling” this week.
All in all, Vintage 2019 so far is looking like a ‘Cracker’!