Winemaker Jan van Rooyen chats about the harvest on 11 January with the first grapes arriving in the cellar on the 13th.
It so turns out that this harvest is another follow-up record-breaking one because of the very early starting date: in 2015 we experienced the earliest date, i.e. 16 January, in the history of Avontuur and this year we will bring it forward by another 3 days…to 13 January !!
This, together with the early heat waves we experienced end 2015/early 2016 as well as later than normal snowfall in the northern hemi-sphere is surely a sign of our changing climate, or what ? (El Niño and the human effect on global warming seems to be a reality…)
We have been told that in the near future there will be new “virgin” soils planted to wine grapes and that traditional areas will become unsuitable, so these forecasts were perhaps not just “spook-stories” after all ?
So, what does this mean for us winemakers?
Well, I remember that many years ago (was it in the 1980’s?) it was said by one Evita Bezuidenhout, that we should “Adapt or die”, (and I thought this was a satirical-political comment…did not know that Pieter-Dirk Uys was such a forward thinking “Boerseun”.)
I think that it simply means we have to do what the situation requires: apply your mind, don’t forget the basics and think creatively to adapt to the task (and climate) at hand.
We should change the way we have been treating our beautiful vineyards for the past decades, keep looking for the ideal combination of cultivar/rootstock/terroir so as to embrace and use what we have been given to work with. (Pity that the researchers have not given us more ideas on this…)
At Avontuur Estate we have a great team and we are still in an area (or climate) that is excellent for premium reds, plus, there are some cool pockets of terroir for whites, so never fear, your winemaker is still here, same-same but with a difference, as should be expected.
Cheers to the 2016 wine harvest and what it will bring to us – I am ready for it: and if I do things differently, then so be it…!!