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New pruning techniques pay off

One of the oldest sayings in the wine industry is also the most accurate: Wine is made in the vineyard. Because without grapes of character, quality and structure the chance of making a good wine is impossible. Since its first vineyard plantings under the watchful eye of Frans Malan, Simonsig has ensured viticulture receives top priority on the estate. Our vines are exposed to the vagaries of nature for 365 days per year during which they undergo various cycles, every one of which has an influence on the quality of the grapes and the resulting wines. Management of their growth cycles are crucial.

This commitment to viticulture ensures that Simonsig remains at the coal-face of developments in the field, doing everything possible to ensure we retain our reputation as one of Stellenbosch and South Africa’s premier wine estates.

Winter is pruning time. The removing of old wood. Cutting away old canes to short spurs from which the new life-buds of spring will sprout. For the past three years we have invested a lot in the training of our vineyard staff through internationally renowned consultants Simonit & Sirch, who brought a totally new dimension to our pruning regime.

“The old pruning methods we grew up with are turned on its head, with one of the major benefits of this new approach being the longer lifespan of our vineyards. The canes are now showing more evenness in length and thickness, implying better balance in the vineyard. The vine forces its nutrients into the best shoots; leading to larger bunches and better yields at harvest time,” says Francois Malan, co-owner of Simonsig.

At one stage we thought our block of old bush vines from which we make our highly sought-after Redhill Pinotage was approaching the end of its lifetime, but we managed to turn this vineyard around and gave it a second lease on life. As a result of our new approach we ended up with better quality shoots and a higher yield. Our oldest block of Chenin Blanc, which was planted in 1987, is on the same path with new life blown into it, also well on its way to Old Vine status.

So next time you pass a vineyard in winter and see our people cutting away at the vines, be sure they are giving new life to a vine that is six months away from delivering grapes for the making of a delicious wine.