February 2019: A month of firsts
As most winemakers know, February can be chaotic, but in the best way possible. Harvest hits its peak, in the Swartland anyway, and days at the cellar are filled with collecting of grapes, dropping off of crates, tasting the berries and making sure everything is clean to receive the next load of grapes. February was exactly this for us, with visiting winemakers from our area coming to collect their grapes, chatting, and then making their way home to start their own winemaking. Long talks by the slowly descending press were a common and very welcome occurrence, getting to share wine aspirations and plans.
Additionally, we tried a couple of new things at the farm this Feb. At our cellar, we like to stray from the book a little to explore the full potential of our wine and create new and interesting things… This was at its peak this Feb:
Zero Added Sulphur wine
This year, I’m making my own wine for the first time! And I’m taking advantage of any beginner’s luck I may have to try something totally out of the box… a zero added sulphur Syrah! Now while this is a huge trend at the moment, this is not the reason I’m trying it… I’m doing it as a little experiment to find out how much sulphur-containing compounds (“sulphites”) the winemaking process makes by itself. Late last year, with my article “Sulphites in my organic wine?!”, I attempted to shed some light on the topic of sulphites in organic wine. Now, I am trying to do a proof of concept, using my own wine as the test.
After 2 weeks fermenting and now pressed and snugly in its barrel, I am so excited to say it is tasting gorgeous, and I’m so excited to see how it progresses.
Of course, Sulphur is used to essentially ‘disinfect’, and without it I stood (and still stand) a large chance of some bacteria taking over and spoiling my wine. So, I had to get creative about how to prevent that from happening. This led to another first for our cellar…
UV light sterilization
A popular, non-chemical disinfectant method new to winemaking is the use of UV light. Often used to sterilize large volumes of water, UV light is a great way to disinfect surfaces without the use of chemicals. So, we decided to get our own little UV light for the cellar, and the zero-sulphur barrel got its UV treatment. This way, we minimized the bacteria living in the barrel, which will hopefully prevent any spoilage, without harming the yeasts in the wine itself… holding thumbs!
Skin-contact “orange” wine
This year we are once again trying our hand at an extended skin contact white, but this time using only the left-over skins of the whites! We learnt that after the white grapes are pressed, there is quite a lot of juice left in the skins that could be used… so instead of throwing them out, we just left them to ferment! We now have a bit of Roussanne and Grenache Blanc orange wine in barrel, and we are so keen to see how they turn out. So far, they are tasting fascinating…
First cellar visit
This month we hosted our very first official cellar visitors on the farm! The days started with a tour of the vineyard, explaining organic and biodynamic practices, and then moved onto some winemaking fun in the cellar. The guests got a first-hand experience of the winemaking process by being able to stomp grapes, roll barrels, punch down, all the while being handed glasses of 2019 vintages from the barrels to taste! We then took them up to the tasting room for a food and wine tasting lunch, where they got to buy some of our limited-edition Nativo Amarillo 2018 (yellow/orange wine) and Nativo Granacha 2018 (grenache) – both only available from the cellar door ?. You can read about one of our guest’s experiences on her blog Swirl and Spice.
We are now doing cellar visits for people who arrange with us privately, so get in touch with us before the vineyards go to sleep for the winter, and get a sneak-peek of our 2019 vintage in its place of origin and a tour of our underground, eco-conscious cellar!