Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pruning the vines at The Vineyard Hotel, Newlands

Having bottled this year's vintage on Thursday this week, we headed back to the Vineyard Hotel on Saturday to help prune the vines. This annual event means that the old wood which bore the fruit this year has to be taken off the vine and pruned back to just two new buds at its base. It is an expert job, so the winemakers and viticulturist involved were there to assist. We had been taught previously how to do this and were allowed to properly prune the vines but, this year, it was decided that the custodians would prune the vines to the top of the second wire and the experts would take over from there. We were a bit disappointed, but there have been some bad mistakes made in the past which may have limited production, so we accept it may have been necessary
We arrived, as instructed, at the Vineyard Hotel at 10h30. It was another wet morning, but it did promise good weather later
Spring must be in the air; one of the Vineyard Hotel's giant tortoises was waking up. This one is about the size of a large dog
A very welcome glass of Kaapse Vonkel from Simonsig was waiting for us to enjoy
The Vineyard's consultant viticulturist, Kevin Arnold from Waterford, nursing a dog bite (No, not a tortoise bite – he separated two fighting dogs and paid a price) on his hand and Vineyard GM Roy Davies discuss this year's harvest while sheltering from the welcome rain
Some good canapés to strengthen our labours, which included cream cheese wrapped in Parma ham, tiny eggs Benedict - (how clever to use omelette on these tiny toasts) and warm porridge with some, OK, not enough, whisky, topped with blueberries and granola
There were four padloper tortoises sheltering in the vineyard
Roy Davies tell us about the pruning requirements
So nice to see three generations of the Ratcliffe family. Sadly we don't see Jenny very much. We all studied for and earned the Cape Wine Academy Diploma many years ago and she now lives in Johannesburg. She was there with her mother Norma , her children and two of Mike Ratcliffe's children
Mike Bampfield Duggan of Wine Concepts pruning in the rain, and on his Birthday too
Greg Landman of Country Life with his vine ...
 and busy pruning was Ginette de Fleuriot of Vinimark
That's how you do it! Kevin Arnold supervises Angela Lloyd
Lynne and Roy inspecting a vine
Claudia and Klaus Schilling pruning their vine
Norma and her man
The Ratcliffe children
He looks a little more awake as the sun comes out and we head for lunch. Was he the model for Spielberg's ET?
Some of the Wine Partners’ white wine contributions to be enjoyed with lunch. There were also some Antipodean Sauvignons, Chardonnays, Rieslings and other wines from a previous tasting; we didn't get to sample them all
The line up of reds was impressive
Lunch was served family style. This was a Caesar salad
Sliced steak topped with mushrooms and rich sauce
Green beans, broad beans and asparagus
Yellow and orange pepper with butternut and red onions, very colourful
Salmon with a Hollandaise sauce
Gnocchi in a light tomato sauce with thinly sliced grilled aubergine and topped with cheese
The entire Pruning team for 2017
Klaus Schilling presents Roy Davis with another of his paintings, this time a warthog
A selection of cheeses
Olives and two relishes
Tiny blueberry tarts
and a special Birthday serenade for Mike Bampfield Duggan with a specially made chocolate dessert

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