Vergenoegd Newsletter - September 2013

Sunday, 1 September, 2013
Vergenoegd Wine Estate
A word from the cellar...Last time we wrote to you, our wines were just settling down after malolactic fermentation and we were starting to get a grasp on the quality of the 2013 vintage.
Now all the wines have been racked off their gross lees and are “clean” and they are therefore much easier to evaluate. We (Marlize and I) have tasted through all the cultivars and tanks and have decided which wines we will be keeping back for our own label and which wines will be sold off in bulk. This decision on what to keep back is a process that we go through over numerous rounds of tasting, with fewer wines going through to each subsequent tasting. We will start off and taste all the wines in the cellar at one sitting. This will give us an idea of the general quality we have and also which cultivars have performed better. In our last newsletter I indicated that maybe the Shiraz as a class stood out. 

After our first round of tasting I can confirm that the Shiraz still stands out, but has been joined by both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. We are also very impressed with our niche cultivars, especially our Malbec and Petit Verdot wines. The only class where we found a few weaker or less inspiring wines was the Merlot class, but even here we are more than happy with our top on.

Winter at Vergenoegd

Pruning began in earnest on the 28th of June. We started off with a 25-year-old block of Cabernet Sauvignon that is technically at the end of it’s lifetime. We used a pruning method that allows for long bearers, more appropriately called "mandjievleg" by the workers. This method of pruning increases the yield, but puts great strain on the vines - almost like giving birth to sextuplets! Therefore we have to give extra loving care to these vines in the form of irrigation in summer, as well as weed control.

As the old saying goes, pruning should be done under a new moon because a full moon would pull the sap high in the vine where it would be lost if the shoot was cut. In our case it is not altogether possible, because you cannot prune 66 hectares in only a month! With all the rain we have had (185mm since end of June and still falling), there were also quite a few days that the pruning came to a complete standstill (you cannot prune in the rain as neither pruners nor vines benefit from this) and productivity also comes to a standstill.

A few times during August, the low-lying sections of the farm alongside the Eerste River, were flooded. This is often an annual event occuring when excessive rain falling in the catchment area, Stellenbosch mountains, floods the lower reaches of the Eerste River.

The result is that the vines in that area are completely submerged or just manage to poke their newly pruned heads above the water. If you need to check on them, or just to be adventurous, you need a canoe and paddles! As long as this happens during the vines dorment stage (winter) there is no lasting damage and in fact they actually benefit from the rich silt deposits left behind after the water recedes.

On a different note: I had the opportunity to do a Snake Handling Course in early August. Now, I have to confess that I used to be horrendously scared of snakes, bordering on a phobia. I decided to do this course to get rid of that said "phobia", so off I went on...Read on. 

Duck Tales

Vergenoegd is known for its 600 to 800 strong Indian Runner duck flock that maintains pest control in the 66 hectares of vineyard on the Estate. This is a tough job for anyone but especially for a very skinny looking duck! Every year John Faure goes through the process of hatching about 400 ducklings in incubators and hand raising them until they are big and strong enough to join their older family members in the vineyard. Of course some of them also end up either sold or at poultry shows all around the country, where John has shown that over 30 years of experience in breeding all kinds of ducks has given him almost an unfair advantage on his competitors.

Whether you are 3 or 73 - a day old duckling is still one of the cutest things you will ever see! The hatching starts around middle August and continues until the end of December. Seeing that it takes a few months for all of them to hatch it gives us the perfect opportunity to share this exciting time with some of the school children in the Helderberg area. We give each school the opportunity to book a date they would like to bring their class and John takes them on an informative journey - from an egg all the way to being a "working duck". We also give the children the opportunity to witness ducks busy hatching out their shells and then the special moment of when they get to hold a beautiful fluffy duckling!

Here is what John has to say about it all:...Read on.


The winter months in South Africa give wine estates like Vergenoegd the opportunity to help people realise what a fantastic time of the year winter is. We love visiting our trade friends and reminding them of how important it is to serve a great Vergenoegd Bordeaux blend with the right venison casserole or roasted lamb dish and how to end their customer’s evening off with a dessert and a small glass of Vergenoegd Old Cape Colony Cape Vintage 2005!
Our trade visits usually takes us all over the country, but in the last few months it was mostly Gauteng. While the Capetonians are trying to get their gumboots dry from this years heavy and frequent rainfall, the Gauteng people just have to make sure their jackets are warm enough and then they can enjoy sunny lunches outside and enjoy sipping on their white wines!

After presenting a few Gourmet wine evenings at different restaurants in Gauteng, it was time for the Western Cape wine shows. The Taste of Helderberg (held on the 6th June this year) is always a fun event as it is a short, one-night-only event and people come from far to have the opportunity to taste the new releases from their favourite producers. Next up was the "We Luv Wine" festival at the Cape Gate Mall. Cobie and Bjorn van Oort managed to once again produce a great platform for the wine farms to strut their stuff and we had fun doing it. Wine shows are not all hard work because we enjoy meeting and interacting with our clients … and of course answering the occasional strange question.

Another interesting event we attended was "Wyn Oppi Rooiplein" that was hosted by Matie Life and the University of Stellenbosch Wine Culture Society . They set up beautiful white tables for the wine farms on the Rooiplein grass (which is super green this time of year) with relaxed seating everywhere for the visitors. The students pack the area within minutes of the gates opening and you realise soon enough that the Maties are there for "business"!

Whether it is finding out more about wine or just enjoying the wine they do it with 100% dedication! It is absolutely crazy and fascinating at the same time!

Coming up in the next few months, we are combining our efforts all over the country. Marlize is heading to Mpumalanga to help our longtime agent, Maggie Colman, with some wine evenings. Marlize will also make a quick Sunday stop at the Cellar Rats Spring Festival in Magaliesburg on 1 September.

Nannie de Villiers Nieuwoudt will be spending 4 days at the Homemakers Expo from 31 August to 1 September at the CTICC and try to speak to as many as possible of the 40 000 visitors expected (I hope she has some throat lozenges!) John Faure will be entertaining/educating some local trade at the Vineyard Hotel on the 2 September. Nannie will be off to Kwa-Zulu Natal for a week where she will join our newly appointed Rep on an exciting tour of Durban, Ladysmith, Pietermaritzburg, Zululand , Mkuze and even Ponta de Oura in Mozambique! All this in a Nissan X Trail with Vergenoegd written all over it!

On 19th October, teams will be competing in the Amazing Race at Vergenoegd. This event, as well as the Helderberg Wine Festival (14 - 16 November), are two of only a few events during the year that are actually held on Vergenoegd Wine Estate. You can also see us on the 9th and 10th November at the "Magic of the Vine Festival" in Pretoria along with Kelvin Grove Club in Cape Town on the 13th November. Last but not least, we will be back in Sandton, Gauteng for the Winex Show from the 23 - 25 October!

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