Harvest Report 2017: Cooler nights create unique conditions
Why De Grendel cellar master Charles Hopkins is excited about this year’s wines.
“It’s an exceptional vintage,” is the verdict of De Grendel’s cellar master Charles Hopkins. The 2017 vintage was produced on the back of one of the driest summers the Western Cape has experienced in decades, but two factors contributed to a successful crop this year, compared to last, he says. “We had about 10 millimeters of rain in December and we had cool nights, which led to a good crop. Last year when we had heat wave conditions we also had very hot nights,” recalls Charles.
On the size, Charles reports the Sauvignon Blanc in particular produced about 15% more fruit, which he accounted to an absence of wind “in the critical days when the vines are flowering”. All in all, Charles is impressed with the acidity of the harvest in general.
Last year required an exceptionally early harvest, while 2017’s conditions allowed the De Grendel team to harvest a full week later, around the fifteenth of January for the “bubbly”, and then Charles reports they waited a further 10 days before harvesting Sauvignon Blanc. “We were able to harvest a full week to two weeks later this year as the fruit ripened later,” he says.
A small portion of De Grendel’s fruit is bought from eleven farms that Charles works with. “We were able to produce 70% percent of the grapes we needed this year at De Grendel, which is the ratio we usually work towards,” he says.
When asked to compare the vintage to last year, Charles says he doesn’t believe in comparisons. “I see winemaking as a journey, not a destination! The quality we were aspiring in this vintage is there; I’m very happy about that.” When pushed to highlight a star of the harvest, Charles raves about De Grendel Koetshuis 2017, with nearly tripled the tones of grapes produced this year compared to last. “It has great potential,” he says.