The growing season for vintage 2019 was one of the most challenging of the past five years. Even with the added complexity of vineyard management during the drought years since 2016, September to December 2018 was fraught with challenges. The mild weather conditions with high humidity created the ideal climate for fungal diseases to rapidly spread throughout the region. Disease pressure was very high and remained deep into the harvest period.
The relatively cool temperatures of December and January had counteracted the warmer days of early spring, to allow the start of harvest to be delayed to the end of January, contrary to the last three years.
Good rains late in January and early February again played havoc with the ripening of the vines. What started out as an even, mild harvest season rapidly turned into a sprint for the finish as all the cultivars decided to ripen within days of each other.
Harvest at Vriesenhof started the last week of January with the Pinot Noir at Talana Hill, followed in quick succession by the Chardonnay, Grenache Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
The two Cabs for the last three years have always been three weeks earlier than any of the other Cabs in the Stellenbosch region.
After that we had a few days grace as a short spell of rain gave us the chance to complete some much-needed cellar work, pressing of tanks and racking completed wines to barrel before we entered the final sprint to the finish.
All in all, we finished harvest at Vriesenhof in a record 6 weeks with the last grapes entering the cellar the first week of March.
The quality of the grapes was good, even with the lower yields in the Chardonnay.
2019 is not a year to complain, we were luckier than some.