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 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!”
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 “ 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.

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.
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:, email or call Tel: +27 +21-852 0408.

Issued by: GC Communications Contact: Gudrun Clark
Tel: +27 +21-462 0520 Email:

On behalf of: Cape Winemakers Guild Contact: Kate Jonker
Tel: +27 +21-852 0408 E-mail:

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

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
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.
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

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!



WINE NAME                                                                                                   QUANTITY ON OFFER

AA Badenhorst Family Wines Grenache Gris Vuilgoed 3 2012                       40 x 6 x 750ml

AA Badenhorst Family Wines Siebritskloof Shiraz L.D.R. 2011                      60 x 6 x 750ml

Ataraxia Under The Gavel Chardonnay 2012                                                   40 x 6 x 750ml

Beyerskloof Traildust Pinotage 2011                                                                 40 x 6 x 750ml

Boekenhoutskloof Syrah Auction Reserve 2011                                              30 x 6 x 750ml

Boplaas Cape Vintage Auction Reserve 2009                                                   30 x 6 x 750ml

Boplaas Ox Wagon 1880 Auction Reserve Potstill Brandy                              24 x 6 x 750ml

Boschkloof Auction Reserve Syrah 2011                                                            40 x 6 x 750ml

Bouchard Finlayson Auction Reserve Domaine Chardonnay 2012               80 x 6 x 750ml

Bruce Jack Happy Hour 2009                                                                               60 x 6 x 750ml

Cape Point Vineyards Auction Reserve White 2012                                        44 x 6 x 750ml

Cederberg Teen Die Hoog Shiraz 2011                                                              60 x 6 x 750ml

De Grendel Op Die Berg Pinot Noir 2011                                                          44 x 6 x 750ml

De Grendel Wooded Sauvignon Blanc 2013                                                     44 x 6 x 750ml

Edgebaston Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011                                              50 x 6 x 750ml

Ernie Els CWG 2011                                                                                              70 x 6 x 750ml

Etienne le Riche Auction Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010                       80 x 6 x 750ml

Graham Beck Wines Non Plus Ultra Cap Classique 2008                             40 x 6 x 750ml

Graham Beck Wines The Catalyst 2010                                                           50 x 6 x 750ml

Grangehurst Auction Reserve 2007                                                                 70 x 6 x 750ml

Groot Constantia Auction Reserve Shiraz 2010                                             40 x 6 x 750ml

Hartenberg Auction Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010                              80 x 6 x 750ml

Hartenberg Auction Reserve Shiraz 2010                                                       80 x 6 x 750ml

Haskell Vineyards Merlot 2010                                                                        70 x 6 x 750ml

Haskell Vineyards Paradigm 2008                                                                   70 x 6 x 750ml

Hermanuspietersfontein Vloekskoot Sauvignon Blanc 2012                     70 x 6 x 750ml

John Loubser Thirteen 2011                                                                            42 x 6 x 750ml

Jordan Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2012                                                   80 x 6 x 750ml

Jordan Sophia 2010                                                                                          80 x 6 x 750ml

Kaapzicht Cape Blend 2010                                                                            60 x 6 x 750ml

Kanonkop CWG Paul Sauer 2010                                                                  60 x 6 x 750ml

Kleine Zalze 3 Expressions 2010                                                                   80 x 6 x 750ml

Lanner Hill Double Barrel White 2012                                                         60 x 6 x 750ml

Luddite “Just Alice” Shiraz Mourvèdre 2010                                            100 x 6 x 750ml

Miles Mossop Wines Maximilian 2011                                                        60 x 6 x 750ml

Neil Ellis Auction Reserve 2011                                                                   60 x 6 x 750ml

Neil Ellis Auction Reserve Pinotage 2011                                                  40 x 6 x 750ml

Nitida Sauvignon Blanc Barrel Twenty Eight 2013                                   40 x 6 x 750ml

Paul Cluver CWG Pinot Noir 2011                                                              40 x 6 x 750ml

Paul Cluver Wagon Trail Chardonnay 2012                                             40 x 6 x 750ml

Rijk’s CWG Chenin Blanc 2012                                                                   44 x 6 x 750ml

Rijk’s CWG Shiraz 2011                                                                               38 x 6 x 750ml

Rust en Vrede CWG Estate 2010                                                                40 x 6 x 750ml

Saronsberg CWG Viognier 2011                                                                26 x 6 x 750ml

Saronsberg Die Erf Shiraz 2011                                                                 42 x 6 x 750ml

Sijnn Syrah 2011 (1.5 Litre bottles)                                                           12 x 3 x 1.5L

Sijnn Syrah 2011 (750ml bottles)                                                               66 x 6 x 750ml

Simonsig “The Russety One” Roussanne 2012                                        32 x 6 x 750ml

Simonsig Heirloom Shiraz 2011                                                                 70 x 6 x 750ml

Spier Auction Reserve Frans K Smit 2010                                                72 x 6 x 750ml

Teddy Hall Eva (Krotoa) Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest 2012          40 x 6 x 375ml

Teddy Hall Maria van Swaanswijk Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2012 60 x 6 x 750ml

The Drift We’re Here 2011                                                                            60 x 6 x 750ml

Tokara Tribute 2012                                                                                       60 x 6 x 750ml

Villiera Meteor Cap Classique 2008                                                             40 x 6 x 750ml

Vriesenhof Cabernet Sauvignon 2007                                                        100 x 3 x 1.5L

Vriesenhof Pinot Noir Bin 115 2008                                                            74 x 6 x 750ml

Waterford Estate 2009 Auction Reserve 2BB                                             50 x 6 x 750ml

Waterford Estate Chardonnay Auction Reserve 2011                              30 x 6 x 750ml

The 2013 Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Auction is open to the public and will take place on

Saturday 5 October 2013

at Spier Conference Centre, Stellenbosch

For further enquiries, to bid on the auction, or to attend a pre-Auction tasting, please contact

Kate Jonker at the Cape Winemakers Guild Office on +27 (0)21  852 0408 or

Telephonic, online and proxy bidding options are also available for those unable to attend.

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!!!!

Graham Beck Wines Harvest 2012 – News IV

Recuperating after the – “State of Emergency of 30 hours” On Tuesday 31st January we had the opportunity to taste some 59 different components of base wines in fermentations and some by now, after the rise in temperature because of the cooling debacle, went dry overnight. Well surprisingly we are relieved to say that most ferments are sound however there are definitely 5 tanks that will need some TLC. The rise in temperature has certainly had taken its toll but then we did try our utmost best, yes, nothing less! Happy to report that the cooling is back to normal and still running. Believe you me we check regularly to hear if it is still running. Having the cooling back mad it another big day of receiving grapes. Another three days and the pressure should subside and we can think again. What a crazy season we are experiencing.
We are happy to introduce you to our two student winemakers that arrived from Burgundy. They are part of the exchange programme between Elsenburg and the Burgundy Wine School, in France. Hopefully later in the year we will have one of our cellar guys going to Burgundy on exchange. They will spend the next two weeks with our team in Robertson.

On the left we have Romain from the village of Volnay where their family has a winery and on the right we have Alexis form the town of Nuits-St George also from a family winemaking tradition. Here they joined in tasting the base wines.

They form part of our “DreamTeam 2012” and they have settled in quickly and hit the ground running. Below is the DreamTeam 2012

Then the saying goes behind every “DreamTeam” there is a “RealTeam”. An amazing bunch of passionate hardworking guys. They make us all proud.


Now here you can see into the “spaghetti factory” … This is how it looks on a typical seriously busy day when quality and press fractions run at the same time – there will be a team racking the previous day’s clear settled juices to fermentation – the lees will be filtered from one tank to another… This all happens at the same time. It is ‘fun’ to watch the team in the mornings when they hurry for their favourite pump! Quite funny but there are some days we run out of pumps and wine hoses – crazy.

On the right the progress of fermentations of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Base Wines. Soon they will be ready to be filled into full identities and we will start select them for the various Cap Classique wine styles.

Very soon we will finish our harvesting for our base wines destined for Cap Classique. The weather has been really challenging in the last 10 days or so from extreme temperatures of 43 degrees to an electric storm (which only happens in the movies!) which 20mm of rain. This storm caused severe damages to the transformer in the vicinity of our cellar and we had the loss of most of our electricity for six hours. Yet, just another challenge.
Another half day is done at Graham Beck Robertson. Sight like this does however add colour to our days of hard work. The window period is now drawing to an end on our picking for base wines. What a rollercoaster of a ride – scary at times but exhilarating and rewarding!
Current intake graph of grapes below up to 6 February 2012:
Chardonnay 815 Tons and Pinot Noir 750 Tons = 1 565 Tons

Graham Beck Wines Harvest 2012 – News III

Catastrophe in Robertson – “State of Emergency for 30 hours”

On Sunday afternoon we had a very unfortunate breakdown when a valve of the cooling units burst and caused a short circuit on the compressor units. What a “daymare as well as nightmare” as cooling is vital during the fermentation to cool the ferments. Pierre and our students were stars and worked the whole of Sunday night to control cooling where needed the most. What a ‘juggling fare’ which I thought only happened at the circus!
Thanks to Louis who also responded quickly and had CellCool out to assess the damage and arrange for new contactors for the compressors. Well we are happy to report that we are finally up and running on Monday evening 19h15 with the cooling compressor. What a day we had today to juggle the amount of grapes to pick, not easy but there was no panic and the team was calm. Frantic cooling through Monday night should normalise the cooling and we hope that the damage to ferment’s are minimal.

The Control Switchboard before

If you thought you have seen array of pipelines on the cellar floor yesterday you ain’t seen nothing yet – it was to frantically cool the cooling water down. Now you know where the term ‘spaghetti lines” come from.
And finally CellCool arrived to repair and replace the contactors:
Now where do we start! Thanks to What’sApp we managed to download photos of the diagrams onto PietseApple (iPhone) and then I would email it to Louis and he in turn will print them, so CellCool could get going…

And finally the sound of a running cooling unit has never been so sweet!!! Thanks to ALL!!!!!

Graham Beck Wines Harvest 2012 – News II

What a week of harvesting. Frantic to put in mildly but certainly productive and rewarding as we manage to catch up on our progress after last week’s heat wave! More than ever, we believe in 2012 will be a great year for the quality of our base wines which proudly make our finest range of Cap Classique’s. See below our intake up to day 12 op picking:

So up to now we have harvested 850 tons of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and equates to approximately 62 000 cases of MCC. The weather was much kinder this week so you can see in the graph that our harvesting team can pick quicker by day. It was a big Chardoonay week and now it is Pinot Noir’s turn. Quality looks good but the heat wave have had its toll as some of the acidity has started to drop. So it just means that we pick up the pace just a little more.

This is a block of Pinot Noir that came in on Friday. It is Pinot Noir. Great canopy and all grapes are in the shade during the ripening process. We are lucky that most of our grapes are 10 minutes away from process which makes it ideal for the process of whole bunch handling. If you see the results that Pinot Noir has no real colour at pressing. We are however challenged when it is extremely warm by day as temperature has an effect on the colour extraction. So far so good. It makes us happy to see these fractions. Quality!

The first of the Chardonnay Clones, ideal for our Blanc de Blancs was ready to go to barrel and below you will see our Champenoise friend, Julie (no she is not in Norway – the cellar is just cold) – filling the Piece Champenoise barrels with Chardonnay for the fermentation in barrel. In the other picture, by the way – I think it is a cool pic – is the fermentation looking down the bunghole, you can see the Chardonnay juice happily fermenting away!

The changes made to the grape receival area has made a huge difference in efficiencies and the flow is better. It is amazing with an upgrade such as this – we already have more ideas for next year’s harvest to improve once again! “Quality is not a destination but a continuous journey!”

Considering the pace of the harvest, I am so proud of the “Dream Team” in the cellar just sticking to their passion and focus and what we need to do.

Then there is also some time to enjoy the beautiful sunsets at this time of the year that reminds us it is only half the day gone! More harvest news soon!!!

Graham Beck Wines Harvest 2012 – News I

This is the first bit of news from the ‘dream team’ in Robertson. Most of you know by now that harvest 2012 started on Thursday 12th January. It is approximately a week later than last year. Very challenging weather that we have experience since we have started – but we do love challenges! More than ever, we believe in 2012 will be a great year for the quality of our base wines which proudly make our finest range of Cap Classique’s.

This year we have two young aspirant winemakers in the making: Carel van der Merwe from Elsenburg and Jaco van der Watt, previous harvest at Cederberg and we are very fortunate to have Julie Breuzon all the way from Champagne – “Our secret weapon” (left in picture). She currently works for Champagne Piaff. Julie will be here only for the base wine harvesting and then goes back to Champagne. Carel and Jaco will see the harvest through with us!

Then as always we need extra cellar hands and see the return for some of our regulars and some new faces. Our four cellar hands this year are: Adriaan Erasmus, Grenville Kuhn, Lionel Siljeur and Narschel Baadjies.

Later this month we will host two Burgundy Exchange students – looking forward receiving them. Hopefully later in the year we can send some of our cellar members to France on the exchange program.
We wish all of the newcomers a happy stay and a good harvest. Remember you are art of the “Dream Team”

We had our colourful Harvest Parade on Wednesday 18th January and were very fortunate to have Mrs Rhona Beck here for the Parade. As it is our 21st year in Robertson her presence made it extra special for all of us. In the procession we had some of our local community members partaking. Mrs Rhona Beck thanked everyone involved and wished all the workers a great harvest and thanked them for their loyalty and hard work. As usual Pieter Fouche blessed the first load and handed it over to the cellar team.

This year sees the changes to the grape receival area which promisses to make the harvest quicker. Many thanks to Louis Jordaan for driving this projest. Benna Smal is already impressed about the ease of flow in this area!