Harvesting time is as unpredictable and whimsical like the weather in Cape Town. Things can change in the blink of an eye. The Overberg has been traumatised by devastating fires and some of our neighbours sadly lost vineyards and homes. Benguela Cove was lucky to escape this ordeal, thanks to the unselfish dedication of the fire fighters who worked relentlessly throughout January to bring the fires under control. Hermanus Tourism hosted an open-air food and wine event to thank these brave men and women and all proceeds were donated to this service.
To encourage this sense of community, Benguela Cove is inviting early bird photographers and wine enthusiasts to join in the harvest fun. Visit the farm between 08:00 and 10:00 to capture the vineyard activities on your smart phone or camera or watch the grapes being sorted in the cellar later in the morning. Times are harvest dependent so contact the farm for an update prior to your visit. Surely there can’t be a better way to win some wine! Follow the social media pages for more information.
A whole buncha stories to tell
In the meantime – I will also continue to capture this special time in the vineyards and cellar, both stressful and exhilarating. Those of you checking in to follow these activities on our social pages will understand the time and commitment it takes to eventually get a good wine in the bottle.
First impressions last, even when we are referring to the physical attributes of a bunch of grapes. When it comes to people, we have mastered the skill of putting our best foot forward - from using the most eloquent phrases, dressing in the best suit or slapping on the latest “luminous glow” foundation to look our best. Because yes, most of the time we only have that one chance to impress.
Imagine only be given one chance a year to make a wine that will not only sell well but that will also create a following and set a trajectory of consistent quality. Winemakers only have one chance a year to do this, maybe only 40 times in their career. So, the room for error is dismal, yet shoppers are still reaching for the cheapest wines as we speak. It took four seasons for a grape to look that good, granting me the luxury of having a whole buncha stories to tell in the months to come.
I am happy to share that the first impressions of the 2019 harvest are very promising. After all, these almost ripe bunches have conquered the elements with SPF-free skins, keeping it real from bud break in spring to winter dormancy before finally stepping out into the sun as small fragile clusters. It requires a whole different beauty regime altogether to look this healthy and good, every step playing a vital role in the development of its personality. It’s here where we need to take our hats off to viticulturists (or epicurists should I say) whose footsteps trailed the vineyards like a hungry caracal to inspect the grapes for those unwanted climate-freckles. Harvest time is almost like announcing this commitment when the reigns are transferred to the winemaker’s hands which will couch these grapes into becoming wine.
Albeit the quality of the first grapes that came in for the making of method cap classique, seems very promising, March will probably have the final say as to whether 2019 will have the potential of producing some beauty queens.
With elegant Sauvignon blanc and Shiraz contenders putting their best foot forward in the cooler regions, Pinotage and Chenin blanc might be upping the ante with their more voluptuous Mediterranean looks in the equally sought after warmer regions.
But it is still fair game at this stage with the prospects of rain or vigorous sunshine that can still easily chase all these beauties into one corner to fight it out for the title.
That being said – it’s a tough game for grapes out there. So next time when you reach for that bottle, remember that it took a helluva lot of money to look this good.
Samarie Smith is a qualified taster and currently the Brand Business Manager at Benguela Cove. She remains an eternal wine student and an unashamed flag-bearer for South African wines. @TheWineSamarie