Durbanville Hills Newsletter - January 2013

Thursday, 31 January, 2013
Durbanville Hills
Happy New Year and good luck for 2013, our 15th vintage 
Winemaking at Durbanville Hills has entered its 15th cycle since the completion of the cellar in 1998. That's a very short time if you consider that wine has been made in these hills for more than 300 years.
What a pity we don't have "harvest reports" from those early years - it would have been fascinating to discover which cultivars they planted and what successes and failures they encountered. 

 he last 15 years, however, are very well documented in our harvest and cellar reports (and if all else fails, I can always fall back on past issues of this newsletter!) This is because our previous January newsletters reference that year's vintage preseason, a time so crucial in determining the size and quality of the grapes. This is the time when flavour, colour, berry size and all other quality factors are determined. It's also when farmers are frantically manipulating canopies to alter micro-climates in the vines, maintaining optimal temperatures, removing excess bunches and curtailing overly vigorous growth. 

When we started Durbanville Hills we had no vineyards under irrigation and were totally dependent on Mother Nature. It was crucial to have a good downpour in late December or early January to see the vines through the ripening period. This dependence exposed us to too much risk so we introduced black dripper lines to drench our vines in "controlled rain". With all the volatile weather these days, I'm immensely grateful for the reliable irrigation, though we would have been fine thanks to a very wet winter and a favourable preseason this year.

We exercise very firm control over the amount of "rain" provided to the vineyards during ripening as its necessary for them to be subjected to a certain amount of stress to ensure good colour and flavour. These days we measure water stress in the leaves to determine the physiological state of the vine - a much more reliable indicator than determining the amount of water available in the soil.