Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Durbanville Wine Valley's Feast of the Grape launch

This annual wine festival celebrating the harvest will be held in Durbanville over the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of March. We attended the media launch of this festival on Tuesday and were told that we would be helping with the harvest, so we had to arrive early. The initiative on this day was for each farm to pick one ton of its Sauvignon Blanc grapes; these were then delivered to Diemersdal wine farm, where they were pressed and the juice from all 12 participating farms is now in tank fermenting and will be released as a single wine at the October  Durbanville wine festival, The Season of Sauvignon. We hope to see lots of you at both festivals.
Different groups of media were directed to different farms. We were told to report to Klein Roosboom at 6.45 and were warmly welcomed by owner/winemaker Karin de Villiers and met fellow writers Giles Griffin of the Wine Tourism Handbook and Denene Erasmus from Farmer’s Weekly.  We had some juice, coffee, muffins and fruit and then it was time to join the pickers
They started picking really early and, by the time we arrived, they were on the top row of the Sauvignon Blanc bush vines and had already picked a ton. Klein Roosboom was also contributing to Durbanville Hills' input, so they picked another ton.
Farm road through the vines with a misty view of Blaauwberg
Vernon Julies, one of the friendly, skilled pickers on the farm. Watching the team work made for a very good experience. They were fast pickers and we didn’t envy them the tangle of the bush vines, where they had to get right inside the low bushes to find the small bunches of grapes. Back breaking work,
searching for bunches over a nearly full lug box
Heading for the van with full crates.  And a lovely view of Table Mountain over the Durbanville hills, with its South Easter tablecloth growing. This brought us very hot weather
Durbanville Hills winery is just across the road from Klein Roosboom
Healthy vines, full of grapes. Not all are ripe yet, so harvest will take place over the next couple of weeks
Klein Roosboom owner/winemaker Karin de Villiers with her workers
Sweet grapes with a little botrytis, noble rot
Vineyards make great patterns on the landscape
All done, we have picked two tons. It is now getting warm and the workers will only come back when it is later or earlier and cooler. Karin believes that it doesn't make sense to pick in the heat of the day; the grapes are badly affected and then so is the wine.
They head off for Diemersdal, where the grapes are to be crushed and put into tank with the other grapes from the other farms. Lynne was able to pick two bunches, so we can feel we were involved in the making of this wine, even if in a minimal way.
Walking in the vineyards
Spraying to prevent rot in some of the other vineyards
A fluffy MuisvoĆ«l  (Speckled Mousebird, Colius striatus) on the top of a tree in the gardens of Klein Roosboom. This beautiful bird is only found in Africa and is not related to any other species. You see lots of them in the Cape, especially if there are fruit or berries nearby
Beautiful Sauvignon Blanc grapes about to go into the de-stemmer
Stems are ejected and are put into the compost,
while the grapes are pumped into the press
and the fermentation tanks
On our way to brunch
Diemersdal Manor house, rebuilt in 1903
A gathering of winemakers and media. Charles Hopkins of De Grendel sits opposite Martin Moore of Durbanville Hills. Next to Charles is Thys Louw, Diemersdal winemaker, who will supervise the making of this quintessential Durbanville wine
A saucy sign on the patio
Table are laid under the vine pergola while we wait for brunch
Not only grapes are fruitful, here is an oil date palm
Diemersdal has mixed farming
Durbanville Hills cellarmaster Martin Moore and TWS Media editor Maryna Strachan in black shirts
Farm road and a Durbanville hill
Grapes go into the hopper
When it is full, the machine is turned on
and the grapes
are moved into the de-stemmer
from which the cleaned grapes and free run juice are pumped into the press
After going through cooler coils, the juice ends up in the large tanks behind Etienne Louw Altydgedacht winemaker (and chairman of the Durbanville Wine Valley) and Thys Louw, Diemersdal winemaker (no relation!)
What you need to know before you go into a cellar on a wine farm
Nitida's Winemaker Brendan Butler was also part of the celebrations and picking
Brunch is on its way as we cool off under the pergola
Benny Howard of Meerendal gives us a huge treat, as we get to taste the free run juice from the tank, which will become the wine once fermentation has taken place. It was glorious. Fresh smells of figs, granadilla, limes, pineapple and litchi and beautiful balanced crisp acidic and sweet fruity pineapples, guava, ripe figs and nectarines on the palate. Could drink this all day.  Can’t wait to see how it turns out.
All of the farms involved put some of their Sauvignon Blancs on the tables for us to drink with brunch. While there are very different styles, they are mostly very identifiable as Durbanville wines.
Etienne Louw tells us he has been voted as Chairman of the Durbanville Wine Valley for the next two years and receives a big cheer.
Each table received one cheese platter, several bread platters and a couple of bowls of really good sliced duck breast and ham salad with roasted grapes, ripe figs, cheese and rocket.  There were chutneys and roasted grapes and fresh grapes on the cheese platter.
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© John &  Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014

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