Rijks Harvest Report 2004

Tuesday, 25 May, 2004
Rijk's Private Cellar
Due to a cold, dry winter prior to 2003/2004 growing season, we prepared ourselves for the worst
August came and with it, the rain. Enough of it to fill up our two irrigation dams. The timing could not have been better. Who says nature doesn’t have a sense of timing!

After this welcome downpour, the vines started their budding period, which took place in a space of 4 weeks. The latest being our Shiraz. The vines were now equipped with the necessary nutrients and water supply it needed for growth. And did they grow!

Because of these late rains, we had to irrigate much less than in previous years in order to restrain growth and to prevent any loss in concentration in the wine because of larger berries (the juice : skin ratio will be higher; we aim for the opposite).

Even though we had later rain, there were no fungal infections. High populations of ladybirds took care of mealy bug and other small unwanted bugs and insects. This led to us having to spray less insecticides and thus became more eco friendly.

Harvest started 22 January; exactly the same time as 2003. There was one big difference between 2003 and 2004 harvests and this was the length of the harvest season. We got underway with a roar as we harvested the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Merlot and even some of the young Shiraz blocks all within the first 3 weeks.

At this rate we would have finished our harvest within 5 weeks, but we had a couple of cooler days just after a short-lived heat wave, which slowed down the ripening process on the Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. This led to the grapes reaching phenolic ripeness at a lower sugar or in wine terms, producing wines with a ripe tannin structure and ripe fruits at lower alcohols. This will be gladly accepted in, especially, the EU countries, where the tendency is to drink wines with lower alcohol levels.

The total yield is down 15 % on last year, but by no means the quality. All the wines are well balanced showing good fruit, tannin structure and have good stable natural acids. The signs are there that 2004 will be a vintage to lie down a couple of years before reaching its full potential.

Issued by: Rijk's Private Cellar
Tel: +27 (0) 23 230-1622
Email: wiine@rijks.co.za