Rietvallei Estate ready for new harvest

Tuesday, 3 December, 2013
Rietvallei Estate
The coming harvest on the Rietvallei Wine Estate in the Robertson Valley is set to cook, despite a cold, wet and long winter.
Kobus Burger, winemaker and managing director of the Rietvallei Estate, where the Burger family has been farming since 1864, believes the 2014 harvest looks promising at this early stage. Rietvallei Estate is one of the oldest wine wine farms in the Robertson district in the Klaas Voogds ward. In 2014 the farm will be in the possession of the Burger family for the past 150 years.

Rainfall in the Robertson district was 42% (142 mm) higher than in 2012 and is markedly higher than the long term average rainfall for the region.
An above average rainfall was recorded on Rietvallei as well and Burger believes this will contribute significantly to the harvest over the coming months.

“With the somewhat unexpected heavy rains of early last week, die soil on the estate is still fairly wet, but this might enable us to start our own irrigation a bit later.
“At this stage is does not seem as if the rain has had a negative effect on the vine flowers and we expect the growth to continue unhindered. We are aware of the threats of fungal diseases, which are more prevalent under these hot, balmy conditions. Strong winds and intense heat in the coming months can obviously influence the new harvest, but that is not a given,” he said.

Burger said they are concentrating to a greater degree on natural weed control and are allowing natural grass to come back into the vineyards.

“We can already witness benefits of this practise with the presence of large numbers of earthworms in our soil. On some cultivars, such as shiraz, we have implemented new pruning practises to attain set results.

“It seems as if most cultivars will produce healthy yields in the new harvest. The chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz blocks are looking good and we expect an above average harvest in the nouvelle, sauvignon blanc and colombar cultivars.

“However, it is still relatively early to make a precise prediction on harvest yield, but in general we expect a good harvest,” Burger said.

Burger emphasised the fact that the recent heavy rains, cold and even hail in some areas did not negatively impact on Rietvallei and that the additional water will be of benefit to the vineyards.

“Sometimes diseases such as oidium occur after rains and heat, but have not yet noticed any of these symptoms in our vineyards. Up to now there are no fungal diseases in the Rietvallei vineyards, “Burger said.

According to Hennie Visser, Vinpro viticulturist for the Robertson region, an above average harvest is expected for 2014, especially after a good winter, cold in October and normal temperatures in November.

“This higher than average harvest estimate is based on the ample winter rains and enough cold in the rest period of the vines. The new cultivars that are continuously being planted in the Robertson region are also high yield cultivars, contributing to the expected increase in yield per hectare in the new season. Producers are also increasing their individual yields through improved pruning and other farming methods,” Visser said.

Burger is looking forward to the new harvest season: “I believe that we will have a later season and that the yields will be good. At this stage it is difficult to determine from the sizes of the bunches exactly how big the harvest will be, but we are positive that the 2014 season will deliver wines of a high quality,” he said.