11 Feb 2019 White Wine Harvest Report
As all our white varietals are nearing the end of their journey in the vineyards, we here at Fairview would like to share with you our thoughts on the 2019 White varietal harvest. We’ll mainly be focusing on Sauvignon Blanc in this report but much of what will be said is also applicable to our Chenin Blanc and Semillon grapes.
The sweltering hot days of February have well and truly arrived! Thank heavens that we have machines that run at night to get the Sauvignon Blanc fruit off the vines in record time and in so doing avoid the grapes being exposed to the upcoming heat wave. We are privileged to have technology at our disposal that can pin point every vineyard’s optimal ripeness period which allows us to move around a lot and make sure to harvest at the right stage of ripeness.
Our challenge this year is a historical one. The past three years of devastating drought has severely affected this year’s yield. Vineyards that have provided 6-8 tons of fruit per hectare in the past are now down to around 3 tons per hectare. With the rains that fell during winter, we were optimistic and anticipated a better yield but the problem lies underground. The rains were not sufficient to replenish the underground water sources that are of vital importance to the efficient buffering and replenishment of vines. This was particularly evident on the one extremely hot day that we had during harvest when the Sauvignon Blanc berries shrunk by between 20% – 25%. Normally when this happens the berries would recover after a day or two thanks to water in the soil but at the moment there is so little ground water that replenishing the evaporation and shrinkage is just not possible. Overnight our Sauvignon Blanc crop was diminished by 20% – 25%.
This, in turn, has a few consequences:
- Very little grapes inevitably means very little wine.
- We will not have enough Sauvignon Blanc to fill the demand for our product.
- We will most likely have to put allocations in place to make sure not to disappoint those with regular listings.
- We cannot give any guarantee as to the availability of our white wines coming from the 2019 harvest.
HOWEVER, everything is not as doom and gloom as it may appear. You see, agriculture is a funny thing that never ceases to amaze me. Probably the reason why I’m still at it over 40 years later. Because of the very cool start we had to summer, the acidity of all the white varietals, but specifically Sauvignon Blanc, is extremely high. I’d be happy to say that it’s probably the highest natural acidity that I’ve seen in my time at Fairview. This will hopefully lead to a greater concentration of flavors, acids and sugars which in turn could very possibly lead to an exceptional year for Fairview Sauvignon Blanc. I’d go out on a whim and say it could be the best year for Fairview Sauvignon Blanc in living memory!
In terms of the red varietals, we’ll get stuck in with the harvest starting this week! Hopefully the red won’t be affected as severely as the Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon, but rest assured we’ll keep you posted on the progress.
To LIFE and a successful harvest!