When Lizelle Gerber, White and MCC Winemaker for Boschendal, first arrived at Boschendal, she explains that her focus was on Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and to increase the volume of the bubbles. 13 years later and having achieved her initial goals, you’ll find her whipping back and forth around the vineyard and cellar like a well-oiled metronome, knowing precisely what to do to ensure that these wines – and more – are made to her exact, knowledgeable specifications.
“This year, we started harvest earlier than the previous year and kicked off on the worst day of the week – a Friday!” she laughs.
“Yet we’ve had a good running start and have seen excellent acid analysis on the juice thus far. Some of the higher acids have come from, the younger vineyards, however, even on older blocks, we have noted that the acid, sugar and pH balances are looking outstanding. While there is no doubt that the drought from the past few years has lowered yields and things are moving a bit slower than usual, the quality and character of the grapes are really showing beautifully”.
As we move into February, Lizelle is placing her attention to picking the non-base white cultivars such as Verdelho from Simonsberg-Paarl, saying: “The moderate and sometimes even cool temperatures in January have allowed for gracious ripening. Though the rain has at times caused some discomfort to the vineyards, we are thankful for the much-needed water the Cape has received. The recent and continuing heat-waves has led us to speculate that we will see quite a dramatic increase in ripening and thus, also in intake tempos.”
For now, harvest 2019 is on track. The first intake of white grapes was of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used for the MCC base wines in January. Interestingly, Boschendal harvest runs over a long span of time, as we are one of the first to start for our MCC grapes, and one of the last to finish in late March due to our dessert wines that require the grapes to further ripen on the vine before picking.
Lizelle finishes “Things are calm now, but I know this is the calm before the storm. From next week, things are going to get crazy in what feels like a tsunami of grapes, and then it’s all systems go”, she finishes with a sparkle in her eyes.