The 2017 harvest will be recorded as one of the driest harvest seasons ever in South Africa. There has been exceptionally little rain from the middle of September 2016 until April 2017 and as a result no vineyard diseases. This very dry weather has resulted in a major drought throughout the Western Cape.
In addition, we had continuous strong South-Easterly winds during the harvest which thankfully resulted in very cool evenings during December 2016 slowing down the ripening of the grapes. The 2017 harvest commenced one day later than in 2016.
As a result of the extreme weather conditions, the crop was characterised by very small bunches and also smaller berries. The resulting wines however reflect fantastic acidity with very low pH levels. Due to the very small berries we have made very unique and powerfully concentrated wines. During January and February 2017 we had very cool evenings and no major heat waves. The lower night temperatures contributed to the exceptional colour and flavours which are evident in the red wines.
Despite the drier weather, the yields on our Riebeeksrivier, Altima & Rooderust properties are slightly higher than the 2016 vintage. The vineyard and cellar teams had to work extremely hard during the harvest this year, as many of the varieties ripened simultaneously.
With the addition of our new red wine cellar on the Anthonij Rupert property however, we were able to handle these spikes in the delivery of the grapes.
I would like to thank the winemaking and viticultural teams for their sterling efforts - they have been rewarded with exceptional quality grapes in 2017.
In conclusion, I think the 2017 vintage is probably one of the best vintages I have ever experienced. We are looking forward to watching the evolution of these wines as they age when going to bottle where further progression will take place.