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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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 http://www.wine.co.za\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 %.

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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.

botrytis
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 daodao.com. “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.
Akademie

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 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!

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.
TGR<
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!
balbyt 8

South African Wine | wine news | Cap Classique harvest draws to a close for 22nd time at Graham Beck Wines

South African Wine | wine news | Cap Classique harvest draws to a close for 22nd time at Graham Beck Wines.

Graham Beck Wines Harvest 2012 – News V

Harvesting of our MCC grapes for base wine is officially over! Finally we can tally our potential liters to see how much base wines we will have after fermentation for our portfolio of bubbles. Very difficult to commit to final breakdown of liters per MCC style but could reach a total of 110 000 cases – sorry cannot divulge at this stage . After a really hectic three weeks the grapes has virtually slowed down to a snail’s pace and we patiently await the ripening of the Viognier and first of the reds. It is a really good time to catch up and to smell the roses again.

Up to now we have received a total of 1 777 tons of grapes. This does include Chardonnay for Waterside White and for Chardonnay varietal and also an experimental batch of Pinot Noir clone 777, as red wine. Big hype of activity around this parcel, as this Pinot is fermented in a traditional way – fermenting it on the skins in open barrels. Attie, our resident barrel-man, prepares the barrels by removing the one heads. Once the fermentation is done we press the skins dry in a basket press, Attie resembles the barrels and the wine returns to the same barrel for Malolactic fermentation and maturation.

Julie and Carel monitoring the fermentations in the barrels of Pinot
On Friday we say goodbye to Romain and Alexis from Burgundy. It was great to have them at our Robertson cellar and I am sure they will return home as great ambassadors of our brand and winery.

Romain & Alexis – je vous remercie pour votre travail acharné et au revoir! à bientôt

Earlier this week had Team Gorgeous in Robertson for a serious training and ‘brand-washing’ experience, or is it ‘brain-washing’? Soon they will be equipped to run Gorgeous by Graham Beck at the Catherina’s Restaurant at Steenberg. Very exciting stuff! This is yet another avenue to promote our ‘gorgeous’ bubblies. So watch this space – hopefully we all will get an invite to see how it looks (hehe).
Look out for this logo! And watch the space.
75% of all base wines have completed the fermentation and we enter a phase now called Tank Tetris – whereby we start combining similar batches of base wine to free up tank space and at the same time fill the tanks, as to eliminate ullage and get a feeling what each parcel will bring to the blends. Exciting times! Oh yes! Nearly missed the story of a new ‘baby’. We also have had the opportunity the work with Pinot Meunier for the first time as bubbly base wine. Pinot Meunier is the third grape variety used in Champagne. We don’t know what to expect but certainly to have it in the cellar is yet another dimension in our quest “in search of the perfect bubble!”
Our team have recovered from the pressure of whole bunch handling and there is calm before the next ‘storm’ – the reds…. Shiraz and Cabernet.

Until next week!!!!