De Wetshof News Winter 2019, Cape Vintner Classification

Thursday, 11 July, 2019
De Wetshof Estate
A wine farm in winter might not show the verdant rows of vineyards or the blooming wildflowers and trees one finds in late spring and summer. But this time of year has a beauty of its own, a dramatic one where the vines are leafless and bare, showing their knuckled scions and shoots reaching for the skies like eerie thin fingers.

The air is crisp and cold and the light sharply clear as it opens up the vineyards to the eye of the beholder. There is a peacefulness. After their energy-sapping growing-season, the spent vines have shed their leaves and are now in a state of dormancy. Resting to recuperate. Mustering the energy and power that will be required when the first birdsong and warm breeze of spring awakens them, heralding the start of another period of growth. Then the vines will be fresh with the urge to ripen grapes for the next harvest.

As far as activities on the farm goes, this is the time to prune. The workers are out in the vineyards with their secateurs busy with the art of pruning, something as old as viticulture itself. The goal of pruning will be familiar to gardeners in that it is a function of managing and regulating the plant-growth so as to obtain the best grapes in the volumes required at harvest.

Here teams of workers move through the vineyards, stopping at each vine. The dry shoots are briskly cut, trimming the growth and exposing the spur from where the next growth-cycle will occur. This is a task requiring concentration to prevent a wayward snip to the hand from a secateurs blade and knowledge to read the plant in deciding what to cut away and what to leave.

It is a magical time in the vineyards and on the farm, one of reflection about the harvest that was as the new wines are tasted and blended. And, although we are in the heart of winter, a slight tingling of excitement as the click of the pruners’ secateurs makes one wonder what the new season holds in store.

Limestone Hill 2019 Launched

Last month the marketing team spent two days on the road overseeing the launch of the latest Limestone Hill, De Wetshof”s popular unwooded Chardonnay that has over the past few years truly captured the imagination of South Africa’s wine consumers. Saints Restaurant in Sandton saw us hosting members from the Gauteng media as well as key trade representatives. And in Cape Town, on the very next day, dozens of oysters were opened at the popular Sea-breeze Restaurant as we brought this eagerly anticipated wine’s 2019 vintage to the media.

And what a fine vintage it is turning out to be. According to Johann de Wet, the wines from 2019 are proving to be stunners. The relatively wet 2018 winter put some much-needed moisture back into the soils. And the temperate weather conditions before and leading up to the 2019 harvest resulted in optimum ripening in the vineyards.

“Cool evenings were complemented by some mild days in the middle of summer where we even had to cancel days of harvesting due to rainfall,” says Johann. These conditions allowed the grapes to ripen evenly and build ideal acid-to-sugar ratios resulting in perfect chemistry in the young wines. This year’s Chardonnay harvest shows young wines of freshness, varietal character and complexity.” Such is the case in the Limestone Hill 2019, one of the five wines in De Wetshof’s range of site-specific Chardonnays.”

Despite the relatively cold and wet Cape winters of 2018 and 2019, the Cape is still experiencing a drought due to the previous five years’ low rainfall.

“Fortunately the high clay content of De Wetshof’s soils helped massively during last year’s winter in sustaining  the vines due to clay’s water-retention ability. Once the water got down deep to where most of the roots are, the soils remained moist and cool. This allowed the plant to go through the processes of bud-break, berry-set, veraison and overall ripening in conditions conducive to a healthy crop.”

The suggested retail price for this wine is R95.

Cape Vintner Classification

Johann de Wet has been selected to the board of Cape Vintner Classification (CVC), an independent association created to build South Africa’s reputation as a producer of world-class wines and promote the Cape’s distinctive site specific offerings. CVC includes some of South Africa’s leading producers, all committed to ensuring that quality Cape wines are recognised alongside the best in the world. The body has developed a system of recognition and accreditation for both vintners and wines which will allow for the accreditation, governance and promotion of distinctive Cape site specific wines and provide assurance to customers of the integrity of its members.

CVC operates within the structures of the Wine of Origin Scheme and all members meet its criteria for ownership of vineyards or management of vineyards through registered long term leases. In addition they are subjected to independent audits to ensure they adhere to four cornerstones of membership. According to Johann, following in the footsteps of Danie who was a founding member of CVC, the aims of the organisation reflect the ideals and ethos of De Wetshof..

“Since day one De Wetshof has been committed to protecting the integrity of our wines’ origin through site-specific viticulture and winemaking,” he says. “Each of our five Chardonnays reflect a specific terrain and climatic fingerprint allowing the wines to present a unique expression of terroir.

“Having created the CVC, South Africa now has a body through which to emphasise this commitment to site-specific wines of regional authenticity. Not only does this portray uniqueness and individuality but showcases the proven quality of these wines, as certified by the CVC. Through this the image and reputation of South African wines has received a welcome boost allowing us to be more competitive at the top-end of international wine markets.”

There is currently a lot of activity in the Robertson surrounds, and we are really experiencing an upturn in local and foreign visitors exploring our valley. The doors of De Wetshof are open where a fire will be roaring on cold days and our efficient staff are available to lead you through a wine-tasting. We look forward to welcoming you on the estate and hope you will have fond memories of your visit.