Peter de Wet
Two "real" Cape winters
in a row in the Robertson Wine Valley
has made the oncoming Spring something to look forward to for the wine-making
team on De Wetshof Estate.
According to Peter de
Wet, who runs the cellar with mentor Mervyn Williams under the watchful eyes of
Danie de Wet, 2012’s now notoriously cold winter follows an almost equally
chilly 2011, to the delight of the Estate’s vineyards.
“The prolonged chill of
this year’s winter has been widely reported, and here in Robertson we still are
feeling it to the bone,” says Peter. “Frost has been a common occurrence,
freezing winds from the snow-capped Langeberg Mountains drove man and
beast indoors and for a long spell midday temperatures struggled to break over
the 12°C mark after dawn’s 1°C to 2°C.”
According to Peter, the
brisk chill of 2012 has caused many to forget that last year was almost just as
frigid. “Two cold winters in a row in which approximately the same amount of
cold units were measured, have had a very positive effect on De Wetshof’s
vines,” he says.
“After the energy the
vines spent during the ripening period, the relief of going into a deep slumber
induced by cold temperatures is the vineyard equivalent of spending a few
months relaxing in a spa. The growth cycle slows down, the vine relaxes and has
time to recover, leading to a rejuvenated, fresh and energetic plant ready to
take on the Spring period of bud-break and berry-set with vigour.
“Now with two fantastic
cold winters in a row to induce complete dormancy, we are expecting great
things from the vines during the growing season, both in terms of their health
and the potential to bear fruit of outstanding quality.”
Peter says that though sleeping dogs might be left to lie,
vineyards require attention and work during winter.
the vines are hibernating does not mean they can remain unattended. Now is the
time for pruning: trimming back the canes to remove the dead, spent wood and
clearing the way for the new buds which will break when things warm up and bear
fine, healthy fruit,” he says.
“These favourable conditions all assist in allowing for
optimum terrain expression of each of our vineyards’ soil and climatic features
through the range of site-specific wines, especially our Chardonnays.”
This year is the 25th anniversary of the
planting of De Wetshof’s Bateleur vineyard from which South Africa’s
oldest single-vineyard Chardonnay is made.