According to Peter de Wet, wine-maker at De Wetshof Estate in Robertson, a cold, wet winter is ideal for allowing the vines' growth-cycle to shut-down completely as the dormant state allows the plants to get the complete rest they need after the harvest season and before bud-break in early spring.
"It's been really cold, with icy winds from the snow-covered Langeberg blowing through the vines," says De Wet.
"Minimum temperatures in August hit freezing point exactly, and on some days the mercury only got up to 10°C. However, the wind-chill factor would have made the real temperature in the vineyards even colder."
With further rain hitting the Cape currently, more rain is expected. This winter De Wetshof has already seen 55mm of rain in a 24-hour period.
De Wet says that despite the vines' requiring cold weather for a long winter slumber, these conditions are also needed to ensure even bud-break when the weather warms-up in spring.
"Uneven bud-break leads to uneven berry-set and disjointed fruit-ripening, and these gremlins a wine-maker does not want, especially as our wines all originate from individual site-specific vineyards with their own individual characteristics," says De Wet. "The cold temperatures of a good winter also act as a natural pesticide, eliminating unwanted critters. And with near-perfect winter conditions currently in the De Wetshof vineyards, we are looking forward to the beginning of the spring growth cycle and the onset of the fruit for next year's wines."