|Wednesday, 22 February 2012||Things are Heating Up|
After a fairly gentle start to our harvest, things are really starting to heat up—although thankfully not as far as the weather is concerned!
Nature can be frustratingly temperamental and unpredictable at times. I have been keeping a close eye on the progress in my Sauvignon Blanc blocks since it went through veraison. Everything had been moving steadily and as expected until the results came in from my Monday morning sample.
The sugars had all jumped from a relatively green 19 balling, on Friday, to and almost ready to pick 22 over the weekend! To make matters even more stressful, two of my three main blocks appear to be uncomfortably close to each other in terms of ripeness. The only reason I have not gone into a complete panic is because I have seen this happen once before only to then witness them slowing down, as dramatically as they picked up—the one block conveniently a little more than the other.
There is just no substitute for continuity in this industry as there are so many variables outside our control. We can never completely understand a property, but with time, a commitment to being involved and a willingness to learn, each year can bring with it a little more awareness and familiarity. This will ultimately lead to wines that are more truthful expressions of the sites from which they originated, and that as winemakers, is really all we can aspire to achieve.
Our European colleagues have been honing their understanding of some of their sites for hundreds of years, with knowledge being passed down through the generations in some areas. When you consider the bulk of vineyards planted in Elgin are scarcely 10 years old—with the first modern planting done in the mid 1980s—you realise just how rapid our ascension in the wine world has been. It can certainly be a little stressful at times, but the exhilaration of being part of such an exciting new region makes it all worth it!
Sean Skibbe is a winemaker at South Hill Vineyards in the Elgin Valley. Follow him over the next few weeks as he shares his view on how his 7th vintage is panning out.Visit www.southhill.co.za to find out more about what's happening at the estate.