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The 2018 Swartland Harvest – The Good, The Bad & The Hopeful

Let’s be honest, things are looking dire for the Western Cape at the moment. With Level 6b water restrictions in place from the 1st of February and Day Zero looming on the horizon, there is plenty of cause for pessimism. In the wake of the 2018 Olive Festival being cancelled due to the constraints it would place on the Riebeek Valley’s natural resources, the question on every wine drinker’s lips seems to be what will become of the 2018 grape harvest.

Fortunately, we have some good news. According to an article published by the region’s local newspaper, dié courant, on Wednesday 31 January, the region’s foremost producers are cautiously optimistic about the grapes they’ve taken in so far and the effects of the drought, although substantial, has not curtailed the area’s yield completely. Riebeek Cellars in the Riebeek Valley began the harvest by taking in white muscadel and sparkling wine three weeks ago. According to production manager Alecia Boshoff the season is running later than last year but is actually on par when compared to a 10-year average. "We're expecting a lighter harvest as a result of the drought. Although most of the vineyards still look good, sunburn and other stress symptoms are becoming apparent. In December, we were still very optimistic, but the vineyards really need some rain at the moment."
According to David Sadie, owner and winemaker of David & Nadia, a member of the Swartland Independent Producers in the Paardeberg-area, this harvest is stressful for both the vineyards and the winemarkers. "We started the harvest two weeks ago and already took in all our Pinotage. The harvest is approximately a week later than the norm, but the slower ripening process can be explained at the hand of less dense foliage and fewer leaves as a result of the drought. The bunches are fewer with lighter berries, and the harvest will definitely be smaller, but that doesn't mean the quality of the wine will suffer for it. According to Drinks Business, an industry publication, this year will be the smallest harvest in South Africa since 2005, but that vintage is also known as one of the most extraordinary in recent history. We are satisfied with what we get and believe that quantity and quality will balance out in the end."

Riaan van der Spuy, head winemaker for Leeuwenkuil Family Vineyards Swartland, says he is cautiously optimistic. Although they only took their first grapes two weeks ago, he already suspects that the overall harvest will be between 20-30% smaller in comparison with last year. "The drought is choking the vineyards. We've learned that in certain regions the producers are facing a yield of up to 50% smaller. So far, we can tell that the bunches and berries are smaller and lighter, but the white wine grapes we've already taken have lovely flavours and the harvest is very healthy. The quality of the grapes depends on where it was planted, and if there was some groundwater available to the vineyards. We believe our old stalwarts, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, will do well. In the meantime, we are hoping for some cooler weather for the rest of the harvest season."

It's only the start of the harvest, and total outcomes are yet to be determined, but it helps to have producers with a positive outlook at the helm. This year may be tough, but the Swartland’s winemakers are tougher.


Mnr. Willem Relihan van die plaas Oak Valley op die Riebeeksrivierpad het vanjaar die Swartland-streek se been van die jaarlikse Vinpro Wingerdbou kompetisie gewen met ‘n blok Chardonnay. Die inskrywings word beoordeel volgens relevante temas wat jaarliks in elke streek gekies word.
Lees meer hier:


Pulpit Rock Winery in Riebeek West, harvested Chardonnay on the 18th of January 2018 for the purpose of making their very own Method Cap Classique. The grapes were harvested at 18 balling and whole bunch pressed. Their first MCC, made from grapes picked during the 2017 harvest, will be launched sometime during April this year. Watch this space !

Chef Jan Hendrik Turns His Hand to Winemaking with Org de Rac

With wine having played a profound role in the culinary journey which lead to him becoming South Africa’s first Michelin-starred chef, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen has launched his first wines under his own label. Both white and red wines, named after his award-winning restaurant JAN which is based in Nice, France, are blended from grape varieties grown on one of South Africa’s leading organic wine farms, Org de Rac in the Swartland region.

“For me, the relationship between food and wine is unquestioningly symbiotic and it is impossible to think of the one without the other,” says Jan Hendrik. Since opening JAN in Nice, not only has the menu included enticing plays on South African traditional cuisine, but Jan Hendrik has made a point of placing wines from this homeland on the wine-list.

The decision to release two wines under his own label was inspired by the quality and variety of terroir-driven grapes grown on Org de Rac, which lies just before the Swartland town of Piketberg.
“I believe in the concept of organically grown grapes – as chefs we want the finest ingredients farmed in natural conditions, so why should it be any different when it comes to wine?” says Jan Hendrik. “Combine this with the Swartland region’s unique climate and soils, and one has a very special quality of grape to work with.”

Both the JAN white and red are inspired by Mediterranean wine styles, which he has grown to appreciate since living in the South of France.

JAN white is a blend of Chenin Blanc, Roussanne and Verdelho. The red expresses Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Verdelho. Working in tandem with Org de Rac cellarmaster Frank Meaker, Jan Hendrik was closely involved in creating the various blends.

“Knowing that the raw materials were of such a high standard, it was very exciting to sit down with Frank with the various wine components to create the white and red blends for the two JAN wines,” he says.

This limited release of two JAN wines is available through www.wine.co.za at http://shop.wine.co.za/selection?SELECTIONID=108. Price for JAN red is R 2210 for 6 bottles JAN White 2016 for R 1657 for 6 bottles.


Swartland Winery recently launched a new Semi Sweet Wine; The Swartland Winery Winemakers Collection Bouquett - 2017 . A richly, sweet and aromatic wine with peach, apricot flavours, muscat, as well as sweet smelling flowers of jasmine. Well balanced acid and sweetness with lingering muscat aftertaste.
*Available soon at retailers nation-wide.

Klimaat- en Landboutoestande No.

Punte van belang

• Somerreënvaltoestande het verbeter vir die laaste week van Januarie 2018 en die hele Februarie met die uitsondering van die verre westelike en suidwestelike dele van die land.

 1. Huidige toestande

Weerstoestande is gedomineer deur warm en droë toestande oor die hele land vir bykans die hele eerste drie weke van Januarie 2018. Drie tropiese siklone het voorgekom oor of rondom Madagaskar gedurende hierdie tyd en het bygedra of was verantwoordelik dat die Atlantiese Hoogdrukstelsel droë warm lug oor die grootste deel van die land laat daal het. Dit lyk egter asof daar nie verdere sterk sikloonontwikkeling in ten minste die volgende twee weke gaan voorkom nie en dat ‘n meer “normale” reënvalpatroon moontlik is.
Die droë en warm toestande het ernstige gevolge gehad vir landbou: (i) Boere kon nie somergrane plant in die westelike en suidwestelike dele van die Somergraangebied nie en dit het veroorsaak dat daar waarskynlik 10-20% mielies minder aangeplant is as wat verwag is; (ii) Die grane wat laat aangeplant is, het hitteskade opgedoen, veral plante net na ontkieming; (iii) Permanent gewasse soos pekanneute, druiwe en ander gewasse het hitte - sowel as droogteskade opgedoen as gevolg van die uitermate hoë atmosferiese aanvraag; (iv) Natuurlike sowel as aangeplante weiding kon nog baie min produksie lewer en veroorsaak dat diere se toestand baie vinnig verswak; (v) Kleiner besproeiingskemas en water uit boorgate is ook onder erge druk.

2. La Nina en Indiese Oseaan

Die ontwikkeling van die swak La Nina-verskynsel gaan steeds voort en behoort voort te duur tot Maart/April 2018. Byna niks het verander in die La Nina-ontwikkeling sedert vorige voorspellings nie .
Die Indiese Oseaan indikators bly baie naby aan neutraal.

3. Verwagte reënval

3.1 Somerreënvalgebied
Korttermynvoorspellings dui gunstige toestande vir reën in die volgende weke oor die somerreënvalgebied, veral die sentrale gebiede soos die Noordwes provinsie, die Vrystaat, oostelike dele van die Noord-Kaap en gedeeltes van aangrensende provinsies. Dit lyk asof tropiese vog suidwaarts begin beweeg oor Botswana en die oostelike dele van Namibië omrede daar tans nie kompetisie is vir vog vanaf die westelike Indiese Oseaan nie en afwesigheid van tropiese siklone. Februarie en Maart is in baie gebiede die beste reënvalmaande en genoegsame reën is dus steeds moontlik om veral baie goeie weiding te kan produseer voor die winter. Dit kan ook nog baie help om steeds goeie produksietoestande vir somergrane te verseker.

3.2 Winterreënvalgebied

Ligte neerslae is moontlik veral oor die Suid-Kaap met die verwagte ontwikkeling van tropiese reënvalstelsels oor die sentrale dele van die land. Dit is egter baie onwaarskynlik dat swaar neerslae gaan voorkom voor Mei/Junie 2018.

3.3 Namibië

Reënvaltoestande kan heelwat verbeter in die laaste paar dae van Januarie en eerste deel van Februarie oor die oostelike en noordoostelike dele. Baie min of geen reën word egter verwag oor die westelike en suidwestelike dele nie.

4. Opsomming en gevolgtrekking

• Reënvaltoestande oor die somerreënvalgebied het verbeter vir die res van die seisoen.
• Dit is onwaarskynlik dat tropiese siklone in ten minste die volgende twee weke gaan ontwikkel en kan bydrae dat ‘n meer “normale” reënvalpatroon kan voorkom.
• Met die waarskynlikheid van ‘n “laat” seisoen kan dit ook beteken dat winterreën laat kan begin oor die Wes-Kaap.

5. Vrywaring

Die inligting vervat in hierdie verslag word op eie risiko gebruik en die opsteller/Santam of enige ander persoon/instansie genoem in hierdie verslag neem geen verantwoordelikheid vir die akkuraatheid of toepaslikheid/interpretasie van inligting vervat in hierdie verslag nie.


Ons sien uit daarna om jou in die Swartland te ontvang.
Jolene Janse van Rensburg.


Santam Swartland Wine & Olive Route
Tel: 022 487 1133
Telefax: 022 487 2063
Fax2email: 086 211 0121

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