Record harvest for Orange River wine cellars

Thursday, 27 May, 2004
Gabi Josling
The high quality of grapes and the excellent harvest has enabled them to produce wines of excellent quality
Good principles, favourable weather conditions and dedicated staff are all the factors that contributed to 2004 being a year that produced a record harvest.

The total harvest amount on completion of the season, weighed in at an astonishing 184 361 tons as the biggest recorded harvest in the history of the Orange River wine cellars. The last recorded harvest records were in 2002 and 2003 with the harvests reaching 162 880 tons and 131 133 tons respectively.

The staff of the five wine cellars and the two juice cellars gave of their utmost skill, dedication and hard work in order to handle and produce this year’s increased harvest and make it a successful season for all concerned. Two of the five cellars, situated in Kakamas and Kanoneiland, started as early as the first of December 2003, with the pressing and dejuicing of the grapes, whilst the cellars at Keimoes, Upington, Grootdrink and Groblershoop only started receiving their first loads of grapes early in January 2004.

The unusually rainy weather and the large table grape harvest both contributed to the fact that the juice division had increased loads earlier in the season, leading them to the record harvest this year. The varieties of table grapes grown are used to create a diverse source of products and grape juices that are then resold.

The weather conditions, which were most favourable during the crushing season, enabled the farmers who grow grapes for wine usage to produce grapes of the highest quality. According to Mathee van Schalkwyk, Production Manager at the Orange River Wine cellars, the high quality of grapes and the excellent harvest has enabled them to produce wines of excellent quality. The growth per hectare was also, in general, higher than usually recorded, and a preliminary evaluation of young wines already produced showed that the wine was already surpassing expectations.

The majority of grapes that were received were the ‘white wine grapes’, as the red varieties are planted selectively in order for there to be no excess in either the white or red varieties. The quality of the red wine exceeded all expectations and it is a fact that the ‘Benede Orange’ is known to produce exceptional and top quality red wine.

The following red wines are currently being marketed very successfully both nationally and internationally: Ruby Cabernet, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Shiraz whilst the Merlot plantations show exceptional promise for the future. The first Merlot produced exceeded all expectations, however the amounts produced were not enough to start marketing effectively. The white wines that are mainly produced are Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Chardonnay.

Although the Orange River Wine cellars has built an outstanding reputation over the years for producing top quality fortified wines such as Muscadel, Sweet Hanepoort and Jerepicho their other products such as the Port and Sherries are very popular too.

PHOTOGRAPHS: Tinus van Niekerk

Issued by: Gabi Josling