Diemersdal Dry-land Vines Hold Promise of Bumper Crop Despite SA Drought

Monday, 20 November, 2017
Diemersdal Estate
The dry conditions experienced by the Cape winelands over the past few years has reached crisis-proportions in some regions, with predictions of a far lower grape crop for 2018. Yet in certain areas of the Western Cape, vineyards are showing exceptionally rigorous growth.

Diemersdal Estate in Durbanville is one of these, with cellar master and co-proprietor Thys Louw predicting a healthy harvest. "Rule number one in wine farming is never count your chickens before they have hatched," says Louw. "So with less than three months to go before harvest, we know that nature can still make anything happen. But looking at conditions now, vineyard growth has been excellent, despite Diemersdal's vineyards being unirrigated and the fact that we have until now received less than half our average annual rainfall of 675mm."

Diemersdal is planted to 200ha of vines, all on dry-land. Louw says dry-land vines are naturally suited to handle the conditions when water is scarce.

"At their planting and early years of growth, the vines know that without any added water, they have to get those roots down deep into the soil to extract moisture from the earth's lower levels. In dry years, like now, the vines are thus better stocked with reserves to keep the plant going through the cycles of bud-break and flowering without signs of energy depletion. I believe dryland farming is the key to quality winemaking."

With flowering of the early varieties underway, Thys says that prospects for high numbers of healthy grape bunches are evident. "There are a lot of grapes about, on Diemersdal and in Durbanville," he says. "Another dollop of early summer rain, and everyone in the region is going to be particularly happy with the crop."

The healthy conditions in the vineyards can be ascribed to the relatively cool weather, the general absence of wind and meticulous canopy management.

"The healthy, flourishing vineyards are a wonderful sight at the moment, and myself and the cellar teams are anticipating another good vintage," says Louw.

 

Dry-land vines on Diemersdal Wine Estate Durbanville with Table Mountain in the distance
Dry-land vines on Diemersdal Wine Estate Durbanville with Table Mountain in the distance

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