This year marks the fiftieth vintage for Simonsig, and we look back on and celebrate 50 great years of bottling and labeling our own wines in our own cellar. This is also the fiftieth year of consecutive Chenin Blanc vintages – quite and achievement, if I may say so myself!
I always think of the old French winegrower who said, “The first 100 years were tough, but then things got better!”
In more general news, the Western Cape has been in the grip of one of the driest summers ever seen in the past 123 years. However, with the start of the first soft winter rains early in May, we are – as every optimistic and faithful farmer should be – hopeful about the prospect of a normal winter season. A winter with enough run-off to fill every stream, river and ultimately, our dams.
The influence of climate change will force us to reconsider how we live, where we live, and what infrastructure we need in order to survive. We are confronted with a 21st century climate that our modern society has never experienced before, while also coping with a 20th century infrastructure that is generally in a bad condition.
Irrigation water from our own dams has been significantly less than in previous years, and our water quota from the Theewaterskloof irrigation scheme has also been limited to 30% of our normal allotment.
With good planning and implementation we were able to irrigate most of our vineyards in a limited manner. Consequently, our harvest this year was only 5% smaller than last year, however, we have to keep in mind that this has been the smallest harvest in five years.
One thing that I have to note is that the grapes were wonderfully healthy – imagine a bunch of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and most notably Sauvignon Blanc, without even one spoilt berry. Beautiful, healthy grapes have made this harvest an easy one.
After the 12-13 week harvest, man and machine are tired. As the last wines are filtered and enter the fermentation phase, our staff will be on a welcome break.
Next on the agenda will be our winter pruning. Each vine is carefully pruned by hand. This normally takes us about 4 months. We start on the Pinotage and Pinot noir – our early cultivars – and end in late September with Cabernet and Shiraz – our late cultivars.