Early on the morning of the 1st of February, the Louisvale winemaking team set out to start the most important event of the year, harvesting. By 06.30 am, 20 grape pickers had started the gruelling hand-picking process of the first yield, Chardonnay, which is the varietal used as the base for the renowned Louisvale MCC. Harvest finished on the 26th of March, when they picked the last Merlot grapes.
The pickers worked hard and harvested the entire 22 hectares of grapevine within two months. This year’s harvest brought in a yield of 160 tons producing about 20 000 cases of wine.
Louisvale winemakers, explain why 2022 is a good vintage
Simon Smith, who’s been making wine at Louisvale for the past 24 years, says that crop yields were higher than last year and, overall, the vine quality was very good. Despite it being a hot summer, the Louisvale vines handled the heat really well.
“The climate during the bud break and fruit set stages of the grapevine growth cycle was optimal, yielding more fruit on the vines”, says Simon. “This year’s Cabernet Sauvignon was extremely good, and I believe it might even exceed last year’s quality, which was phenomenal, by the way. The message will be in the bottle, of course, but so far, it’s looking brilliant.”
Each year the weather patterns are unique, making each vintage unique. While the weather in Cape Town was, again, somewhat erratic, Simon was pleased to have harvested all the white varietals before the rains came. Last summer’s heatwaves also played an integral part of the process and Simon expects the wines to be full of flavour and mouthfeel. The conditions worked well for producing a well-balanced grape, so very little intervention was required. “Our work now is what’s important – when we nurture the process.” adds Simon.
Assistant winemaker Julia Blaine who joined Louisvale in August 2021 has just emerged from her first harvest at Louisvale. Julia says, “I’m so pleased to be working with Simon who shares my philosophy that wine is made in the vineyard first and that one should keep things simple in the cellar. Each farm has its own way of doing things, which makes every harvest experience unique. I really enjoyed being part of the team during harvest and learning about the rhythm of this special terroir. The fact that all the vineyards on the estate are close to the cellar means that you really are part of the cycle. There’s an energy in the air at harvest time and one of my favourite things is the smell of the fermentations in the cellar. It makes me happy.” Julia has a surprise fermenting which involves Chardonnay and amphora but says she will share more about it soon. In a nutshell, says Julia, “at Louisvale, we keep things simple, but never compromise on quality.”