Graham Beck Bubbly Harvest 2016 – Episode I

Happy New Year to everyone and may 2016 surprise us all and be a fantastic vintage! The Graham Beck cellar team was back from holidays and started on the 5th of January. I was still ‘literally’ trying to get rid of my sun tan lotion from New Year but we immediately prepared for the harvest! Our harvest at Graham Beck in Robertson started on the 8th January. It is the exact day as last year. As per usual our first load of grapes is paraded to the cellar where our farm manager, Pieter Fouche hands over the first load in a bit of fanfare. The vineyard team arranges beautiful and colourful banners that is paraded from the vineyard to the cellar and arrives with the first load of grapes.

Harvest kicked off with a serious bang this year… Extraordinary weather with lots of heatwaves before the New Year has set the tone for a challenging vintage of 2016. We tell ourselves, actually in Robertson by now; know that this is the effect of El Niño and global warming. “Remember in Robertson we know have to work with sunshine, after all there is only one ‘son and that is Robertson!

Early to really predict on quality but our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir destined for Cap Classique is healthy and all has smaller berries…. Never a bad thing – promises concentrated flavours. On the blocks of Chardonnay we have completed the crop estimation, for now, is running on the expected yields but the Pinot Noir is about 10% lighter on the estimated yields.

It has been a very dry start for us all in the Western Cape this year and we do not really welcome the hot days and lots of sunshine…. However (at Graham Beck) we really struggled at the start of harvest at the cellar as we had a few unforeseen breakdowns occurring! Having a great support team here and Robertson, we have managed to bring all the problems to a ‘ready-steady-go’ phase. We see this as just another part of our challenges in our constant strive for the perfect bubble.

Here are some notes on the latest conditions and the effect of the weather from Pieter Fouche—Farm Manager: “Disease pressure has been low due to the very dry conditions but the demand on water has been extraordinary. In these conditions we need to pulse the vineyard blocks all the time, as the last thing we need is for the vineyards to stress as this will cause (what we call) “bevange” or pseudo ripeness. I don’t think the winemakers will mind if we get a good down pour as long as things dry up quickly! The morale in the vineyard team remains high! Current weather stations are indicating moderate sunshine over the weekend…. Bring is on, please!

We now on day five of the harvest and we have received 530 Tons of grapes. We have harvested Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Robertson, Darling, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Durbanville.



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