Graham Beck Harvest News III

We keep attracting attention
Generally speaking we seem to do a ’good job’. We never siege a dull moment. Through the vintage we had had many students and winemakers passing by in Robertson. Yet again we have the privilege to welcome a Sommelier from The Vineyard Hotel & Spa — Ndabezinhle w Dube known as Ndaba Dube. He spent two days with our team learning what is like making wine rather than just selling wine onto the consumer. Ndaba has been has been capped as Cape Town’s most up and coming wine steward for 2013.
Dube was selected from a pool of young trainee chefs and sommeliers in Showcook’s new ‘Inter Hotel Challenge’. The award sees the top 10 premier luxury hotels in Cape Town competing for top honours in a competition where the chefs and sommeliers are tested and pushed in their knowledge, skills, aptitude and talents.
Ndaba, who has been part of The Vineyard Hotel & Spa’s team for four years, is passionate about all things wine. He remarks: “The Inter Hotel Challenge has been a fascinating and wonderful experience and it was a privilege to be part of it all. Top wine, like top service, go hand in hand and this award means a great deal to me – thank you!”
Ndaba
Roy Davies, General Manager of the Vineyard Hotel & Spa, remarked: “Kudos to Ndaba for this fine achievement. To be lauded as the most up and coming wine steward in a category with fierce competition is absolutely fantastic. His knowledge of wine, his attention to detail, and gentility mark him out as a true wine ambassador.
“We pride ourselves on our long and historic association with wine and this award further cements our status as the Cape’s premier wine destination hotel,” Davies added.
We sincerely hoped that Ndaba, by the way a charming man, has enjoyed his stay with us and that we will have fond memories and have learnt something he can apply in his position. Should your road take you past The Vineyard Hotel & Spa pop-in and say hallo to him.

Harvest Parade number 24
Harv parade

This year the theme for the harvest parade in Robertson was The Year of The Game Reserve wine range. Colourfull banners aand the nice big wire ‘statues’ lined the reception area. Lots and lots of happy faces accompanied the first load of grapes to the cellar. We hope that most of you could by know had a chance to see the little movie of the parade. Now with the parade over we can concentrate on the load and loads of grapes that is expected in the next two weeks for our Cap Classique base wines.

Our Cabernet Sauvignon is King!

French:Pronounced as “Ka.ber.ne So.vij,non” is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. This variety has played a significant role in the development of our The Game Reserve range.
Every year there is a vineyard block competition organized by VinPro in the Robertson region and this year the emphasis is on Cabernet Sauvignon. Pieter Fouche entered block 10 Cabernet (one of the TGR Cabernet blocks) and we have just learnt that Pieter and his vineyard team has won the competition. This block was places 1st of all blocks in Robertson.
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This is a huge feather in our cap for all of us and we are extremely proud of this achievement.
Despite all the rains and huge disease pressure Pieter has managed to be top of the pops!
Well done!!!

Kapokbos – Beautifil, tasty and very versitile
Stunning indigenous plants emanate at The Graham Beck Private Nature Reserve and surrounds. One of them in particular is especially useful. This beauty is called the Kapokbos, or Wild Rosemary, or (for you serious botanists) Eriocephalus africanus L. In southern Africa there are 34 species of Eriocephalus. With its forked, silvery leaves and flat radiant flower heads at the branch tips, this fascinating plant stands proudly rooted in the clay and granite hillsides in the Robertson region and is resplendent during the month of November. Flowering times vary, but the best displays are in winter when the whole shrub is covered in small, white flowers. Soon after blooming fruits are formed, which are covered in long, white hairs. These pretty fluffy seed heads look like cotton wool or snow, which gave rise to the common name for Eriocephalus, namely “Kapokbos” (kapok in Afrikaans means snow).Kapokbos
If you look closely at the plant, you’ll recognize the features which allow the Kapokbos to survive in the Cape areas where water supplies are negligible. The grey leaf colour reflects sunlight and also acts to reduce the temperature of the leaves. To retain moisture and trap transpiration, the leaves are covered in tiny silvery hairs.
Mossie likes to use Kapokbos when enjoying the traditional South African braaivleis or barbeque. He says it is a fantastic herb to use with skaaptjops (lamb chops). Traditionally been used as an effective remedy for many ailments and is one of the ingredients used in the popular cold ointment Vicks.

Spotlight on: Carel van der Merwe
Carel is no stranger to the team! After having completed Viticulture and Oenology in Wellington at CPUT he did his first harvest with us in Robertson in 2012. He also assisted in the transition in Franschhoek that year. He stayed for 2013 harvest and then went on to do a harvest at Stonestreet Winery in the Sonoma County (USA). Now back for 2014 and will be leaving for Australia in the last week of February to Australia. He will do a harvest with Cape Jaffa Wines.
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He is an avid cricketer, golfer, tennis and rugby player and supporter and my preferred team is the DHL Stormers (I guess we can’t hold that against him). Furthermore I adore the ocean and fishing with my father as well as camping and hiking in our beautiful countryside.
The things that bothers Carel: “when someone doesn’t do their part—as the saying goes—in for penny in for a pound”
What makes Carel happy: “I am a team player and love it when the whole team works together as a unit “

What is a fermentation?
Wine fermentation is the critical conversion of a grape’s sugar content into alcohol by active yeast. The higher the sugar content in the grape the higher the alcohol content in the wine, if there is not vintner intervention. The common form of sugars that reside in a grape’s juice are the fairly familiar glucose and fructose.
Technically speaking in alcohol fermentation, sugar + yeast = alcohol, CO2 and heat.
Fermentation is where the magic happens. After harvest the grapes are sorted and separated, slightly crushed to split the grape’s skin and allow the juice to flow. The grape juice, skin, and seed are collectively called the “must.” In the case of red wines these essential components will all be fermented together to extract the color and tannin from the grape skins. With white wines, fermentation generally takes place with only the grape juice, skins are removed prior to the start up of the fermentation process. Yeast, either naturally occurring or more typically added by the winemaking team, jump starts the metabolic process of converting the grape’s innate sugars into alcohol.
This chemical conversion results in the formation of thousands of chemical compounds. Many of them are highly aromatic chemical compounds ranging from fruit to floral, and veggie to earthy. It’s these unique chemical compounds that give wine, made only from grapes, a spectrum of smells ranging from fruits, flowers, earth and a variety of other familiar scents, not just grape juice. Typically wine fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks or neutral oak barrels. The primary fermentation process typically takes a week to two weeks to be completed.
Cap Classique and Champagne undergo a secondary fermentation process in the bottle (the traditional Champagne method). In this case the secondary wine fermentation, additional yeast and sugar is added to the base wine to initiate another round of fermentation, but this time in a closed or crown capped to trap the carbon dioxide bubbles, resulting in the famous bubbles of sparkling wine.

Recap on Dosage in Cap Classique
Second Fermentation takes about four to eight weeks using around 24g/l sugar which creates a pressure of 5-6 atmospheres of CO2 and provides an extra 1.2-1.3%abv. The Cap Classique is then normally stored horizontally at a temperature of 12 to 15C in the cellars, with minimum ageing requirements for NV of 15 months and a minimum 36 months total ageing for vintage Cap Classique at Graham Beck Wines. After ageing there is the process of disgorgement in order to be able to finalise the last stage in the making of Cap Classique by the addition of dosage. Disgorgement is usually done mechanically, by freezing the bottle neck and its deposit by plunging it in to a bath of freezing solution.
Bottles are then up ended, opened and allow the internal pressure to push the slushy yeast plug out. This process is where the dosage is added along with the cork and muzzle.
Dosage in Cap Classique is the final addition made to the wine, and will also reflect the final sweetness or residual sugar of the resulting wine. In France this is known as the liqueur d’expedition and generally is a combination of sugar syrup and wine. Champagne is made with a highly acidic base wine that even with reasonably high residual sugar it can taste bone dry. This may be followed by ageing on a second cork, which helps the dosage integrate, and allows the beginning of further aging processes involving the gentle caramelisation of the sugars in the dosage.
Below is a table of the sweetness levels as set out by the EU which must be stated on the label: Sweetness levels are as follow:
Brut Nature/Zero <3g/l
Extra Brut < 6g/l
Brut 50 g/l
So I hope you have a better idea know of sugar levels in sparkling wine!

Cape Winemakers Guild enters 2014 with new Chairman

For immediate release

Andries Burger, award winning winemaker of Paul Cluver Estate Wines, has been appointed as the new Chairman of the Cape Winemakers Guild. Taking over the reins from Jeff Grier of Villiera Wines, Andries who served as Vice Chairman during 2012, embraces his new portfolio with great vision that will see the Guild expand its role in furthering transformation and setting new benchmarks for South African winemaking.

“I see my role as chairman as an extension of the goal of the Cape Winemakers Guild, to guide the Guild in its quest to further knowledge and expertise in ensuring that South African wines are rated amongst the best in the world. It is also important that we continue to strive for improvement in our industry and that we, through projects such as the Guild’s Protégé Programme, nurture and create leaders for the future,” says Andries, who has been making wines at Paul Cluver since the 1997 harvest and joined the Guild in 2010.

Andries considers his selection as a member of the Guild amongst his most significant career highlights. Other major achievements include his 2011 Riesling Noble Late Harvest named white wine of the year in the 2013 Platter’s South African Wine Guide; his 2012 Gewurztraminer winning the Decanter Trophy for the best dry aromatic varietal in the world; his 2009 Chardonnay winning the Trophy for the best Chardonnay at the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show for two consecutive years as well as winning the Trophy for the best white wine of the show. The same wine was also voted best Chardonnay and best white wine of the Five Nations Wine Challenge.

Andries will be supported on the Guild’s Management Committee by new Vice Chairman Miles Mossop of Tokara, whilst David Finlayson of Edgebaston serves another year as Treasurer. Louis Nel of Louis Wines is the Guild’s official Cellarmaster for 2014 with David Nieuwoudt of Cederberg Private Cellar responsible for the Guild’s technical workshops and marketing.

The Cape Winemakers Guild comprises 45 of South Africa’s most respected winemakers with the single minded vision to elevate the standing of the South African wine industry through their on-going commitment to transformation and the production of world-class, quality wines.

For more information on the Guild, visit: http://www.capewinemakersguild.com, email info@capewinemakersguild.com or call Tel: +27 +21-852 0408.
_________________________________________________________________________

Issued by: GC Communications Contact: Gudrun Clark
Tel: +27 +21-462 0520 Email: gudrun@gc-com.co.za

On behalf of: Cape Winemakers Guild Contact: Kate Jonker
Tel: +27 +21-852 0408 E-mail: kate@capewinemakersguild.com

Graham Beck Harvest News II

Harvest Officially kicks off
After lots of anticipation the day has come for the Har-vest 2014 to start in Robert-son. Harvest started today 17th January. This is on av-erage a week later than nor-mal but certainly not the latest we ever started for harvesting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for bubbly. The latest we have ever started, quite weirdly late was in
1997—interestingly another cold and wet winter.—when we only started harvest on 3 February. We started on a young block of Pinot Noir.
We wish Pieter Fouche and his vineyard teams all the best and success for a good 2014 harvest!!! More about the parade …. Wait

Biodiversity Hotspot – our own Game Reserve
To start 2014, we thought it would be fitting to once again touch upon what we consider the most important element of The Game Reserve Wine Range…besides the wine, that is!
The Graham Beck Private Nature Reserve is located in one of the world’s most remarkable ecological hot-spots, also known as a biodiversity hot-spot, The Cape Floral Kingdom. To get a better idea of why this area holds so much appeal, a greater understanding of what defines a biodiversity hot-spot is essential.
This, the smallest of the six Floral Kingdoms in the world, is an extraordinary component of our planet that is home to not only some of the rarest species in the world, but so many. With over 8,500 different plant species, this hotspot deserves to be highlighted and cherished, as well as nurtured and protected.
We can be immensely proud that this natural wonder is located quite literally in our back-yard! And it’s precisely this unique haven of biodiversity which makes our Private Na-ture Reserve and, by association, our The Game Reserve range of wines, so incredibly special.

Spotlight on Georgina Wilkinson – One of our interns
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She grew up in Zambia and went to the American Inter-national School before I went to boarding school at The Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape at age 10.
After matriculating, she went to the University of Stellen-bosch where she studied BScAgric Viticulture and Oenolo-gy. As part of her studies (the new curriculum) she complet-ed a 6-month internship at Eikendal Wine Estate in Stel-lenbosch in 2013. Her family has a farm in Scherpenheuwel not far from Robertson where they grow grapes and olive trees. They also produce their own olive oil called Rio-Largo.She will be with Graham Beck Wines for her second harvest.The things that bothers Georgy: “Spiders and small, enclosed spaces !”
What makes Georgy happy: “Being apart of a successful, dynamic team as well as entertaining friends and family with a delicious hearty meal.”

The hero of the Floral Kingdom
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One of the most fascinat-ing flora found in the Graham Beck Private Na-ture Reserve, we’re thrilled to introduce the beautiful Brianhuntleya intrusa, (a genus of flowering succulent perennial plants in the Aizoaceae family that are native to the semi-arid regions of South Africa’s Western Cape) named after one of South Africa’s own botanical heroes—Brian Huntley.
The distribution range of the plant is from Worcester to Robertson and McGregor and, although it is a range-restricted species, it is locally abundant and occurs in at least 20 locations within these habitats. What makes the discovery of Brianhuntleya intrusa on our property so special is, not only that the plants are indeed classified as a threatened species (with the population trend decreasing), but that they have been reported to thrive most successfully around the Breede River which runs through The Graham Beck Private Nature Reserve.
On the reserve you’ll spot the delightful pink flowers (which open during the day from early winter to spring) peeking out.

Sharing our passion for the planet
We’ve got some really excit-ing news to share as the year draws to a close! Graham Beck Wines and the Wilder-ness Foundation have formed a partnership that will not only benefit our conservation efforts at The Graham Beck Private Nature Reserve, but will also give us the op-portunity to have a hand in raising funds to support the conservation of Africa’s wilderness and wildlife on a far bigger scale.
The Wilderness Foundation shares our passion of spreading a richer, more dynamic aware-ness of wildlife, wilderness, conservation and nurturing a more responsible society. As a project-driven foundation, they manage a number of initiatives involving ecosystem restoration, biodiversity networking and wildlife conservation, including the Forever Wild protection initiatives that aim to raise public awareness of a number of endangered and threatened species in Africa.
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The Game Reserve wine range is our way of reaching out to the public and grabbing their attention regarding the fascinating animals and plants that are nurtured on our reserve. These wines truly are a unique celebration of the amazing natural diversity we encounter within the Graham Beck Private Nature Reserve.
We hope that this awareness engenders the kind of curiosity and passion for conserva-tion that can stimulate a burgeoning trend for buying, farming and acting responsibly with regards to our planet.

Hosting on the Zambezi Queen
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It was a real privilege to have done the Graham Beck Wines food and wine pairing weekend onboard the Zambezi Queen just before Xmas — gosh isn’t she is beautiful! There can be few natural wonders as synonymous with Africa’s raw wilderness as the great Chobe River. These waters divide Namibia’s Caprivi Strip from Botswana’s Chobe National Park, and its exotic banks boast one of the densest populations of wildlife on the African continent. Teeming with life, home to the largest populace of elephants in the world – currently estimated at roughly 120 000. Along with the elephants, lions, huge groups of buffalo, waterbuck, eland, sable and giraffe. In the river itself plenty of hippo and crocodiles, and keep your binoculars at the ready for spotting a rich selection of bird life. You could even experience the thrill of it all from your own private suite aboard the Zambezi Queen. It is all about pampering, indulgence and superior comfort and such a professional team onboard to make the ex-perience even more special.
We had the honour of having Mr & Mrs Thabo Mbeki onboard. A true unique experience and they are a wonderful couple and so interested. Fabulous feedback from them. “Pieter Ferreira our cellarmaster was what we needed; understated, sense of humour and a true teacher. I guess that we shall all henceforth be pretentious about wines in general through the Graham Beck experience. I shall also be visiting The Graham Beck Training institution just for deeper knowledge”The Zambezi Queen’s Captain Wayne Nel and manager Vicky Nel are great supporters of Graham Beck Wines. Thank you for the opportunity!

Graham Beck Harvest News I

The 24th Harvest in Robertson

Happy New Year for all of you and may 2014 surprise us all and be a fantastic vintage!Generally speaking, by now we would be harvesting this year’s grapes but with all this late rain—could this be a repeat of January 1981? – We ask ourselves.
With the recent rains we have to give nature chance to recover and for the soils to dry out. It has been a very wet start for us this year and we will welcome some warm days and lots of sunshine…. However the Graham Beck’s cellar in Robert-son is more than ready for the 2014 harvest and this will make it Har-vest number 24!.
Here is some notes on the latest conditions and the effect of the rain of this past week from Pieter Fouche—Farm Manager:
Disease pressure has been high but me and my team have been fol-lowing all these elements very
closely. But with the latest rain hopes aren’t that high and mo-rale is fairly low.
In this week we measured more than 180mm of rain on Madeba Farm here in Robertson. If you consider that our long term average for a whole year is less than 250mm….. It makes you ponder.
Points of concern is that the vineyard is very wet and we cannot get into any of the vine-yards to spray and we might get downy mildew on the grapes.
Due to the late rain we also cannot spray our bubbly vine-yard blocks of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as the with-holding period of the chemicals is to long before we need to harvest the grapes. So we are living on knife-edge.
With the amount of rainfall the berries soaks up to much water
and they can burst and will cause botrytis. The action plan is there but we need some sunshine!
Sampling of sugars for ap-proximate harvest dates is on hold until next Monday. Our weather stations are indicating an improvement with moder-ate sunshine over the weeknd…. Bring is on, please! With all the rain our farm roads are in bad condition with lots of eroded areas which makes some of them in-passable. We are waiting for the material to dry before we can attempt to repair and fill all the holes the roads.
On a lighter note one of our drivers yesterday caught him-self two river crabs in one of the Chardonnay vineyard blocks! This all sounds doom and gloom but as you know we have been there before!

Our new Company Values
Towards the end of last year Graham Beck Enterprises shared their new values:
Passion and PrideThere are no half measures. Through our obsession with quality and service- excellence, we bring passion and pride to our business and to our brands.
Go beyondOur business is a place in which everyone is valued and respected; where people are encouraged to think, create and do, and where we are all accountable for delivering our best.
Lookout for othersWe care about the world beyond the gates of our business. With a spirit of generosity, sense of history and family, we work to advance and improve the lives of people in the communities around us.
Tread lightly upon the EarthRespect and care for our planet and natural environment is
deeply embedded in our culture. As a business, it is our duty to do all we can to treasure, preserve and sustain our planet, for future generations.

Play your partSustainable profits are the cornerstone of our business. For the benefit of our employees and shareholders our customers and community, we strive to always run a well-managed, succesful and responsible business.

News on The CWG Protege Programme:
The Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé Pro-gramme was launched in 2006 with the goal of bringing about transformation in the wine industry through cultivating and nurturing winemakers from previously disadvantaged groups to become winemakers of excellence. It is the long-term vision that some of these Proté-gés could in time be invited to become members of the Cape Winemakers Guild.
Through the Protégé Programme passionate young winemakers have the opportunity to hone their skills and knowledge under the guidance of some of the country’s top winemakers. The Protégé Programme comprises a 3 year internship and only final third and fourth year students who have studied Viticulture and Oenology at either the University of Stellenbosch or Elsenburg Agri-cultural College can apply for Pro-gramme.
Some objectives:
To expose the young winemakers to a wide range of wineries, wine types, roles in the winery and skills for a winemaker through a paid internship over three years.
To prepare young winemakers of colour for a career in winemaking through facilitating interactions and networks within the industry.
Focus on Philani Shongwe – our CWG Protege:
Philani is in his final year of internship in the CWG Protégé Programme and will spend it with us in Robertson. More on him. Philani Ngcebo Shongwe graduated in 2011 from the University of Stellenbosch and got his first job as an intern at Groot Constantia.In the same year he did his first harvest overseas at Ansitz Waldgries, South Tyrol in Italy – where he fell in love with the Legrein (no it is not his girlfriend but it is a grape similar to Shiraz). When he re-turned home he joined the CWG Protégé Programme. He did his first year at Paul Cluver, Elgin in 2012. In 2013 he went back to Groot Constantia where he made his first wine “The Passport” which is a 100% Shiraz.
This year he has joined the Graham Beck Wine-Team and is excited and looking forward to ‘play’ with bubbles and learn all the intrinsics from a passionate team.In 2013 Philani attended the Michael Fridjhon Wine Academy for a wine judging course to enhance his wine tast-ing skills.Philani has been involved with 8 harvests which include other winer-ies and areas such as Slanghoek and Thelema in Stellenbosch.
He believes that wines should be made fresh, fine, elegant and low in alcohol….. I must say we concur with Philani. He will be exposed to all elements of winemaking and outside activities such as CWG Technical tastings through the year. He will be bottling his wine of last year as part of the criteria of the programme. What makes Philani happy: “a smooth and complete fermentation!” What gets him nervous or frustrated: “a sluggish fermentation”.

Small interesting creatures:
Mossie has sent the following images of the Yellow-haired Sugar Ant commonly known as the ’Bal-Byter” in Afrikaans and blessed with the botanical name of Camponoyus fulvopilosus.
This ant has a great technique to spray its attacker or enemy with formic acid rather than biting. The next couple of photographs below hopefully explains the actions. There is spotting the enemy, then maneuvering into position, then tucking its abdo-men, then the spraying and then lastly the inspection whether it was successful or not!
I still suggest you don’t sit on the ground if they are around—you might just get a pinch where you don’t expect it!
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