Graham Beck Harvest News V

South African wine needs a fresh, focused approach
This a shorten version of the Nedbank VinPro Information Day held recently:
The South African wine industry has a lot to offer global wine consumers, but a fresh approach will be essential if producers wish to take advantage of opportunities in a rapidly changing landscape.
International research institution, Rabobank, listed the USA, Canada and China as the top three attractive target markets for wine in terms of growth and price. “Without a unique story, you only have fermented grape juice, market your uniqueness” said Rannekleiv of Rabobank. South Africa should also change the perception in some countries that its wine quality is inconsistent.
According to Mike Veseth, renowned wine economist in the USA and editor of The Wine Economist blog, the best market for wine is in your own backyard. “Think global, but drink local,” he urged producers. Africa is a lucrative destination for South African wines, with economic growth in Sub-Sahara Africa expected to reach 6% in the next four years.
An ever growing bulk wine segment – locally as well as globally – was also under the spotlight. Veseth views bulk wine as complementary to packaged wines; not their competition. “However, ensure that the volume and brand of your bulk wine is managed in such a way that it is associated with good quality, otherwise both packaged and bulk wine prices will suffer,” he advised. South Africa’s bulk wine prices remained stable over the past few years, compared to those of competing bulk wine players Australia, Chile, France and Spain.
The local wine market is entering an exciting stage – sales have increased by close to 3% year on year for the past three years, after going through a relatively stagnant period
Following a “perfect storm” in 2013 and weak rand, the South African economy is set to experience a turnaround, with increased foreign investment and expectations that the rand will stabilise in the short term. This according to Johann Els, senior economist at Old Mutual. “Inflation will be on target, interest rates will remain flat and consumers world-wide are ready to start spending again,” he added.
(As it appeared on\news)

Great new inovation
The University of Aveiro in Portugal has created a prototype for a cork “chip”, capable of giving full information about the wines via Bluetooth or NFC (smartphones), such as the date the wine in the bottle was produced and bottled and even the temperatures which it was subjected too.
The invention, still in the development stage, could be a breakthrough to wine counterfeiting and of interest to the producers and consumers themselves, to ensure that bottles were stored in perfect condition before serving.
Great new innovation and wonder what the lifespan of the chip will be….. Will it ‘outlive’ the wine?
Let us see if prototypes become available.

cork ID

The success of Flotation vs Vacuum Drum Filtration
Since last year we have moved from vacuum drum filtration of juice lees after settling to using flotation. The results are phenomenal and needless to say the quality of the press juices has improved tremendously.
In the past we used the rotary drum vacuum filter (RDV) to clarify our lees (sedimentation) from the settled juice. We use to start up the filter—what a mission! It uses diatomaceous earth (filter powder) which has become a nightmare as it is extremely difficult to re-cycle the used filter powder. This also is negative scoring in IPW self assessment. Not only is this process noisy, it uses a lot of energy, needs to have an operator for the duration of the time it runs. There is also the danger of possible health effects associated with prolonged exposure to the filter powder. Then recovery of volume and loss of product due to this process is 30 % loss.
The method of filtration also oxidizes the juice—negative on quality – as the drum creates a vacuum in the drum and sucks the juice through the filter powder. A very slow and tedious operation. It also normally runs over the weekend and brings a huge wage bill as a cost —in terms of overtime. Typical run of the filter on the lees from one day lees is 12 hours and then you sit a at least a ton of waste and filter powder—yes after each action!

Rotary Vacuum Drum Filter                        Flotation Machine

RDV             Floatation machine

Flotation is the reverse of a settling. Settling occurs due to flocculation of heavy/solid particles to the bottom of a tank and then the clear juice is raced from the sediment. With flotation we use Nitrogen (N2) gas which is pumped into the juice to be treated and the bubbles of the N2 fixes to the solid particles making them lighter than the liquid/juice and takes them to the surface (top of the tank). Too cause the foam particles to float we coat the juice with a fining agent (like Q up from IOC) to form a floc. This aids the particles to float to the top. The solids can be skimmed off the top of the clarified juice, or in our case, the clarified juice is racked out from underneath the solids and only the foam then remains in the tank after racking. Based on the volume a days harvest— this process only takes 2 hours to be completed, uses very little energy and the pump runs very quietly. Using Nitrogen we have no oxidation—which is great for juice quality. The recovery rate is brilliant in comparison to RDV (up to 30% loss) and average loss with flotation is only 2 %.

float1   float2    float3    float4

Before                   Start                       20 minutes       2 hours and ready to rack

On a good day we are saving in more ways than one and ultimately the quality of juice is improved. Gelatin is commonly used or even bentonite for flotation and next week we will be using a brand-new fining agent derived from potatoes which will make the wine – vegetarian and vegan friendly… finally!
Watch this space… we love R&D and also try to be one step head….

This year’s vineyard challenges
1. Botrytis
Botrytis cinerea is a mold responsible for fruit rot in many fruit plants. Grapes are susceptible to this fungus. Generally it causes bunch rot commonly known as botrytis rot or grey rot.
It also creates conditions favorable for the growth of other spoilage organisms. Botrytis and a mix of other microorganisms including yeast, mold, and bacteria are involved in miscellaneous fruit rots.
Under certain ideal microclimatic conditions the fungus causes noble rot, which is responsible for the production of some of the world’s finest sweet white wines. It is important to realize that the same fungus (botrytis) can cause noble rot or ignoble rot depending on the conditions of development.

Temperature and humidity are the two critical factors influencing the development of noble rot. During the infection phase, a temperature of 20-25°C and a relative humidity of 85 –95% for a maximum of 24 hours are considered desirable. Once the infection has occurred the relative humidity should drop below 60%. This drop in humidity is a key factor in dehydration of the infected berries.
During the course of development the mold mycelium penetrates the grape skin. The skin becomes permeable but does not split. This condition facilitates drying of the berries. The loss of water from the berries leads to the concentration of sugar and other constituents. The osmotic pressure inside the berry increases, consequently the metabolic activity of the fungus decreases. The limited activity of this mold causes certain changes in the fruit which enable vintners to produce unique and prestigious sweet white wines. However this can develop into Sour Bunch Rot.
Following infection by Botrytis, if the relative humidity remains high, and drying of the berries does not occur, the fungus continues to grow and produce certain undesirable changes in the fruit. The berries swell and burst. This splitting of the berry makes it susceptible to attack by other spoilage organisms, especially molds and acetic acid bacteria. This condition is often called vulgar rot or sour bunch rot. Thank goodness we hand-pick for MCC.
2. Downy Mildew
Although all green parts of the grapevine are susceptible, the first symptoms of downy mildew of grapes, caused by Plasmopara viticola, are usually seen on the leaves as soon as 5 to 7 days after infection. Foliar symptoms appear as yellow circular spots with an oily appearance (oilspots). Young oilspots on young leaves are surrounded by a brownish-yellow halo. This halo fades as the oilspot matures. The spots are yellow in white grape varieties and red in some red grape varieties (e.g., Ruby Red). Under favorable weather conditions, large numbers of oilspots may develop and coalesce to cover most of the leaf surface. After suitably warm, humid nights, a white downy fungal growth (sporangia) will appear on the underside of the leaves and other infected plant parts.

md oily    md     md bunch

The disease gets its name “downy mildew” from the presence of this downy growth. In late summer and early fall, the diseased leaves take on a tapestry-like appearance when the growth of the pathogen is restricted by the veinlets. Confirmation of active downy mildew is made by the “bag test.” To do this test, seal suspect diseased leaves and/or fruit bunches in a moistened (not wet) plastic bag and incubate in a warm (13-28ºC/ 55-82ºF), dark place overnight. Look for fresh, white downy sporulation beneath suspect oilspots or on shoots or fruit bunches. Note that mature berries, although they may be symptomatic and harbor the pathogen, may not support sporulation even when provided with ideal conditions. Infected parts of young fruit bunches turn brown, wither, and die rapidly. If infections occur on the young bunch stalk, the entire inflorescence may die. Developing young berries will either die or, if between 3 and 5 mm in diameter, become discolored. Berries become resistant to infection within 2-3 week after bloom, although all parts of the rachis may remain susceptible 2 months after bloom.

Best Small Hotel Award for 2014 in the world goes to Franschhoek
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House is delighted at having been awarded the Best Small Hotel in the world in the annual TripAdvisor 2014 Traveller’s Choice Awards.
TripAdvisor® the world’s largest travel site, makes up the largest travel community in the world, with more than 260 million unique monthly visitors and over 125 million reviews and opinions covering more than 3.1 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The sites operate in 34 countries worldwide, including China under “We’re excited to recognize the world’s best properties, based on the opinions of those who know them best – the millions of travellers around the globe who come to TripAdvisor to share their experiences,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. “For those seeking inspiration for their 2014 travel planning, this list of spectacular accommodation that received 2014 Travellers’ Choice awards is a perfect place to start.”
Travellers’ Choice award winners were determined based on the reviews and opinions of millions of TripAdvisor travellers around the globe.

Arthur and Katherine McWilliam Smith, owners and managers of Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House said “We could not have won this award without our wonderful guests and staff who make our work so rewarding and enjoyable.”
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House also won the 2014 Traveller’s Choice Awards for the Best Luxury Hotel in the world and 2nd place as the most Romantic Hotel in the world. It was placed 5th in the World in the 2013 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards and was awarded the Best Hotel in Africa in 2011 by TripAdvisor.
Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House is situated in the French Huguenot valley of Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands. Six rooms are encompassed in five unique buildings all situated on the same beautiful property in a quiet area of the village Franschhoek. It offers a personal service that only a very small, family-owned and managed, five-star, luxury guest house and boutique hotel can give. From this retreat, guests can stroll to the village centre and explore its famous restaurants. The Akademie Street Boutique Hotel and Guest House collection is rich in atmosphere, luxury, peace and privacy – it is the ideal hiding place for the traveller who is no longer impressed with five star hotels.


Graham Beck Harvest News IV

The importance of barrel inspection.

If you have ever seen Pierre or one of the cellar guys sticking their nose into a open or new barrel you might wonder why? Since it is a product so important to your wines, you should inspect the inside of every new and used barrel you purchase and before you fill it. It is an inspection of the inside of a new barrel by the winemaker and his team to make sure that the new barrel conforms to the specifications as to how it was ordered. In other words for a specific wine that will eventually mature in the barrel we have chosen a certain toast level that will eventually part with the oak flavour. This process is made at the stage when the barrels is shaped or form over a open fire at the Cooperage.

So when the barrels arrives with us, there will be a cosmetic inspection of the outside of the barrel to make sure there are no gapping gaps between the staves. This can cause serious leaking when it gets filled. Then Pierre will inspect the inside using a light which he slides through the bung hole which will light up the inside of the barrel. Then he does a few checks: He can judge the toasting level the way it was ordered  (too much or too little) and then check for any mould or off-flavours and if the barrel is clean of any debris. Lastly and most probably the most important that there is no blisters inside the barrel. Blisters is normally caused by excessive heat and causes the wood or stave to split or bursts. This is a risk of contamination as it become a collection point for wine and you can never clean the barrel properly and can spoil when the barrel is empty.
       Image             Image        Image 

     Using a light to inspect the inside              inside we inspect for toasting level                What you don’t want is a blister! 

If we are not happy with the cosmetics we can ask the cooperage to repair the barrels and if we are unsatisfied with the toasting or the blisters we can reject the barrel as a whole.


Riverine Rabbit awareness day

On the 15th of October 2013 we held a Riverine Rabbit Awareness Day, a day of information and fun involving practical workshops focused on the Riverine Rabbit and its habitat. We wanted to reach out to the people living in the Langeberg Municipal region and make them aware of the fact that this remarkable and extremely endangered animal might be living in their area, undetected. We also had a goal to raise funds towards the EWT Robertson Riverine Rabbit conservation project. The Riverine Rabbit can be considered South Africa’s most endangered mammal, with the total Northern population estimated at less than 250. Their stable numbers depend solely on the cooperation of private land owners and farmers. In 2006 a second population of the Riverine Rabbit was discovered and has recently been identified as an older population which was separated a long time ago; this group has since been called the Southern Population. This Southern Population is far more vulnerable due to the encroachment and activity of humans in the southern region; which is why The Riverine Rabbit Awareness day in this area was so important.

We do know a lot about the Northern Population, and what the Drylands Conservation Program does to assist land owners with these creatures on their property. This is why we are now stressing the importance of creating similar opportunities for this older, unknown and even more endangered Southern Population in order to save this unique and fascinating species.



Our morning kicked off with some key speakers on the Riverine Rabbit and discussions about the habitat that must be conserved if we are to help the rabbit thrive on our land. Christy Bragg introduced the Drylands Conservation Programme; part of the Endangered Wildlife Trust with the focus on the Riverine Rabbit and its habitat.

Christy also talked about tracking the rabbits with the use of camera trapping, an exciting and effective way to locate and keep track of the numbers of rabbits. Janice Essex, DCP intern, introduced the Riverine Rabbit Project and our Conservation Manager, Mossie Basson, spoke about the vision of The Graham Beck Game Reserve Wine Collection and its place in the efforts to provide awareness and information to the public surrounding The Graham Beck Nature Reserve, as well as our progress in rehabilitating the Riverine Rabbit’s habitat.

The afternoon was fun and practical, with a hide-and-seek-find-the-rabbit exercise and a lesson on how to set up camera traps to photograph any rabbits that might be living in our area.

That evening a fund-raising event for the initiation of a Southern Population conservation project was held in the exclusive hide in The Graham Beck Nature Reserve.

We wish to thank all the partners involved as the day was a wonderful success, creating a network of interest in the Southern Population of The Riverine Rabbit. Not to mention at least three new potential projects which were inspired by the interactions of

the partners.


The Boomslang (Tree Snake)

Truly unique, and so far the only species in it’s genus. Normally not longer than about 160 cm but this one I would place at a whopping 180cm, and definitely a male ( males green with black or blue scales/females normally more brown)

One of the snakes we found in South Africa with excellent eyesight and will move the head from side to side to get a better view. Almost exclusively arboreal and definitely reclusive and will flee from anything too large to eat. Meals will consist of , chameleons, lizards, frogs, birds and bird eggs, small mammals only on special occasions. Famous to hibernate during cool weather and curled up in weaver nests . The birds will make a huge racket  so listen to the birds.

It can open its jaws up to 170 degrees when biting and with hemotoxic as venom will result in blood not able to do clotting process resulting in internal or external bleeding. Venom is slow to act and this result in victims wrongly believe that their injury is not serious.

Only 8 serious human envenomations  by BOOMSLANG occurred between 1919 and 1962  and only 2 which were fatal. All of these cases a direct result of attempting to handle or kill this snake. The message is clear— just watch, take a photo and then walk away.!!!!!  It will inflate its head/neck if cornered and assume the S-Shape pose before striking. In this case leaving ample time for you as human to move away safely and thus unlikely to be a significant source of human fatalities.

South Africa has in the region of 130 types of snakes, although 55% of them are technically venomous only 12 species are considered potentially deadly

The shredded skin of a boomslang is one of the ingredients to make the Polyjuce Potion in J.K.Rowling’s, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS just to add some use-less information.

Image                    Image


What is Malolactic Fermentation

Basically, malolactic fermentation is a secondary fermentation. It is the process of taking the harsher malic acid in a wine and converting it to a softer lactic acid. Malic acid is the tart acid found in a Granny Smith apple, while lactic acid is the more subtle acid found in milk, butter, cheese and yogurt (and it is the diacetyl derivative of the lactic acid, that shows up as “buttery” in a Chardonnay that has undergone malolactic fermentation). By converting malic acid to lactic acid via Lactobacillus bacteria, you end up with a wine that is more approachable and less abrasive on the palate.

Why Use Malolactic Fermentation?

While malolactic fermentation often happens naturally during the fermentation process, winemakers can determine to allow it to happen or prevent it from happening based on the stylistic results they are shooting for in the bottle. While a wine that has undergone malolactic fermentation is less acidic in nature, the trade off is that it will often have diminished fruit character. Some Chardonnay vintners are processing part of the blend through malolactic fermentation and preventing the remaining part of the blend from going through malolactic fermentation. Then they blend both batches together to retain the fruit character, while keeping the acidity down a bit.

This method has been a successful compromise in many popular Chardonnays where the malic acid lends complexity and the non-malolactic wine contributes solid fruit.

Pronunciation: malow-lack-tick fermentation. Also Known As: ML, MLF, malolactic conversion or just “Malo”.


A sad loss to the racing community

The news that the Highlands Stud (owned by Graham Beck Enterprises) based retired stallion National Assembly had been humanely euthanized at the ripe old age of 30 on Wednesday due to the infirmities of old age, was greeted with sadness. Pensioned in 2008 from stud duties due to declining fertility, National Assembly’s passing brings the curtain down on a remarkable career in the breeding shed, and as a highly successful broodmare sire. National Assembly hailed from the third crop of leading North American sire Danzig, whose own promising career on the track was cut short by a career-ending knee injury. Sent to stud early Danzig made an indelible impression upon the breeding and racing landscape of America. Danzig’s greatest gift to the breeding and racing world was Danehill, who would ultimately go on to surpass his great sire in becoming the most successful sire of all time.                                                                         Image

Sold as a yearling for $2 500,000 at the 1985 Fasig Tipton Saratoga Sale, National Assembly went into training with the legendary Vincent O’Brien, however he suffered a serious injury which put paid to his racing career, and he was sent to Graham Beck’s Highlands stud operation in South Africa, where he was to make a significant impact on the country’s breeding and racing scene. While National Assembly was never crowned champion sire, he did make the list of champion juvenile sires on several occasions. National Assembly possibly saved his greatest until the end, from his second last crop, conceived at the ripe old age of 25, came Soft Falling Rain. Voted Champion colt of 2012, he soared in 2013 with two international Group 2 victories in the Godolphin Mile on Dubai World Cup night, and the Nayef Joel Stakes, and barring any unforeseen injuries, continue to grab headlines.

A Stakes winner over distances from 1200m-1600m, Announce has produced some impressive progeny since he went to stud in 2002. His most notable progeny to date have been Call To Combat, winner of the Wolf Power Handicap (Listed) and now standing alongside his father at Hadlow, the consistently performing filly My Jelly Bean (2nd Gr2 Umkhomazi S and 3rd Gr1 Gold Medallion), and Horatio (Group 3 winner of the Tony Ruffel Stakes and 3rd in the Gr.2 Gauteng Guineas). One thing is certain, National Assembly’s legacy should endure for several generations to come, and it would be a fitting tribute to the great sire if they could achieve what he never could, a slew of sires championships.