Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Vilafonté 2006 Action Blog - Day 3

From the Cape of South Africa

"Hurry up and wait"; this seems to be our harvest mantra. We haven't actually started bringing in our grapes yet. We have been hovering over them: thinning; evaluating maturity, phenolics; water status; and evenness of ripeness since mid January. Watching and waiting.

Yesterday I introduced the crew who grow the Vilafonte wine from grapes to bottle. Today I will introduce the vineyard.

Our vineyard site, that we care for, care about, and are watching in this blog, is in the Paarl appellation; downslope from the Simonsberg Mountain, on a bench, before the valley slouches down across the Berg river and becomes the Paarl Valley.

It has a desirable configuration: a bowl, but a shallow one, and 3 sided, with the 4th side the drainage. What we like here is (1) the slope, which drains water and air; (2) the different aspects; so we can plant blocks that will face north, south, and West - to give diversity; (3) and that the "bowl" has its back to the "Sou-Easter"; a fierce wind that pushes fog over the Hottentots Holland and blows down the Valley. So we get wind, but more breezy and less fierce that it could be elsewhere.

We have planted our 30 acres in 1 hectare blocks (approximate); there are 4 Merlot blocks; 2 Malbec; 1 Cabernet Franc; and 7 Cab blocks. We have unimaginatively named our blocks by letter (A,B,C, etc).

Today Phil, Bernard and I walked Block Z (Merlot); AB (Merlot); E (Merlot) and D Cabernet; the latter because it is usually the first Cab to ripen and we wanted to check its status (not ripe).
The essence of our time was: (1) Are Z and AB ready to pick?? (answer…no); (2) Since the upper part of Z and the lower part ripen at slightly different times, should we pick them separately or together?? (answer is: still thinking about this; there are pros and cons on each side)…and Julie is sampling them separately and together today and tomorrow. We will look at her information and I will walk the vineyard again on Thursday. And finally, (3) is E ready to pick??? E is a different clone and more difficult to time harvest and make it very well. It seems to do better being picked very ripe. And it is definitely not ready to pick now; skins are tough; tannins still a bit dry. So it is hurry up and wait.

Have a look at our experimental harvest PODCAST!
Zelma Long