With over 20 years of harvests to his name, Cellar Master Jacques Viljoen is no stranger to the vineyards. As a key member of the Boschendal team since 2018, he brings a deep passion for red wine and a wealth of winemaking knowledge to the cellar. Jacques explains that he is motivated by his maxim that great winemaking lies in the balance. “Timing is everything,” he opens.
For the 2022 harvest, his timing – and patience – was certainly put to the test. Harvest only started with Pinot Noir from Darling on the 1st February – a full two weeks later than usual. The reason for this slight delay all comes down to the weather preceding harvest time:
“We had a wet, cool winter that ultimately resulted in a much later start. The early months of 2022 were warm and dry, but not before summer made a U-turn and introduced colder evenings in March,” explains Jacques. Luckily, the prized mountainous slopes provided a much-needed buffer against the heatwaves. In addition, this swing between a cold winter and moderate summer created optimal conditions for the red wine cultivars – particularly Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon which ripened simultaneously.
For the moment, harvest is still well underway for the Boschendal red wine team, with an overall yield seemingly on par with previous years. “We’ve harvested some exceptional Pinot Noir, Malbec, Merlot, and we’ve started with some top-quality Syrah from Stellenbosch and Cabernet Franc from the Helderberg,” adds Jacques. While it is still too early to say how the 2022 red wines are showing, apparently there are a few specific Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah vineyards that really get the heart rate up!
In keeping with Boschendal’s spirit of innovation, Jacques is continually pushing the envelope with new technology. This includes using apps that estimate radiation levels to assist with canopy management, as well as improved water management and weather stations with accurate predictions. “By using all the tools at our disposal, we can ensure consistent results each vintage while embracing our minimal intervention approach,” says Jacques.
As the team batten down the hatches for the final few weeks of round the clockwork, the overall atmosphere in the cellar is one of optimism. Jacques attributes this to a combination of timing practices, respecting the fruit, and working with a powerful team to help steer every vintage to express the true terroir of Boschendal. While timing is everything, it seems good things come to those who wait. As the cellar team prepare for the final push before harvest 2022 wraps up, we raise a toast to their dedication and to always seeing the glass half full.