Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ever Wonder What Two Tons of Grapes Look Like?

Ever wondered what two tons of grapes look like? Well lets face it, probably not but, these are them - Two Tons of the finest Shiraz grown in the Riebeek Valley. The Cellars process around 1oooo tons of Shiraz in a good year but for us this was all that mattered. Sadly you can't help but want to have a look through to see if there are any underripe or rotten grapes but as you can see in the picture - harvesting by hand in the vineyard tends to take care of quality and barring the odd leaf, we had plump and healthy fruit. From a pub in Wimbledon to a tractor trailer in South Africa in six months - I have to say, patience is a virtue when it comes to agriculture.
While we were at the winery the very obvious thought occured to us which was what about white wine? But more of that next time.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A word about winemakers

I am yet to meet a cynical winemaker. They come in all shapes and sizes but even those who make big volumes destined for various world markets cannot resist experimenting and making small lots of interesting stuff for their own amusement and education. So, when we say to Zackie that we want to make such a tiny amount that any accountant would tell you is completely unviable then of course he said yes. Having worked with wine for many years we had ideas about how we thought we wanted it to be made - carbonic macceration, cap punching, sparging, cryo extraction..........but, Zackie said - lets press it, put it in one of the small tanks and see what happens. Sort of disappointing in one way but also right. All the wine writers talk about wine expressing the land it's grown on and so why not do the non interventionist thing and see where you get to. It's a risky approach with such small quantities because if it goes wrong that's it, finished, no more, try again next year.

Monday, March 13, 2006

What starts in the pub stays in the pub...

Lets face it , ideas that you come up with in the pub usually stay right there. There is a reason for this but, just this once, the idea of buying a couple of tons of grapes stuck. We thought all we have to do is call our friend Zackie in the Riebeek valley which is famous for Shiraz and ask him where the best grapes grow . He pointed out a vineyard below Porcelain Hill. You drive through flat open plain until you get to the Kastelberg mountain and as you go over the pass there is a spectacular view of the valley and this is where the vineyard lies. It's risky growing grapes there as you are competing with a troop ( is this the right word for a group) of Baboons for grapes but the fruit was perfect.

Some of the world's greatest wines come from pretty dull landscapes but there but there is something about places like the Mosel Valley or the Cote d'Or that are romantic and the wines seem to reflect them. I had visited the Valley once before and taken photos of this particular place but never imagined that we could be making wine from it.

So, easy we said, go ahead and we'll be over at harvest time to see the grapes in and to talk about how we want it made.

Two Blokes Sitting In a Pub

So, two wine traders are sitting a pub over their first beer

They moan about how they spend all their time chasing containers around the world and never get a chance to do any of the interesting stuff that got them into the business in the first place.

They finish their pints and order two more

One says to the other, why don't we just go and buy a couple of tons of grapes and make some wine for ourselves, we can be completely selfish and for once not care about whether anybody else likes it. The other one replies, at least with two tons if we can't sell it, we would be able to to drink it ourselves over a couple of years, maybe with a little help from our friends.

They have a third pint

And go back to talking about football and all the other fluffy stuff that you talk about after three pints which makes perfect sense at the time but afterwards you realise was the beer talking.