We got through the last week-end of January without any mishaps. The cooling is working properly. Our Pinotage was cooled down from 26 degrees, the temperature the grapes arrived from the vineyard,  to about 17 C – just cool enough for the yeast to lag for 4 or so days. Cold soaking grapes before fermentation promotes some extra flavour and colour in the wine. The colour of this Pinotage is deep and robust- a bit like the Guillermo Pinotage which is made from these grapes.

We decided  to pick both Viognier and the balance of the Pinotage on Monday. I got up early – made a turn at the bottling company as we are loading wine for export to UK, USA, Canada, Holland and Belgium in the next 10 days and there is lots to organise- then to Radoux, the cooper to check on the progress of our new barrels- we have 40 new barrels on order this year. I then had a brief visit  to see my mate Adam Mason at Mulderbosch. We have completely sold out of the Sauvignon Blanc we made last year from grapes we bought from Pete and Ros Koch- but have a big order from UK which needs fulfilling, plus wine to sell till the new vintage is ready in 6 months’ time. Adam thankfully had some stock of Sauvignon Blanc available. Adam has supported us with advice and encouragement throughout Painted Wolf-  he is an important  part of the “back-up” pack.

By the time I made it to the cellar at 11am, Johan had already begun to crush the Viognier. Our press is tiny and it takes forever to process grapes. We received 2.2 tons- less than the 2.8 tons I had been promised –  a  big disappointment!  We have split the wine and have pressed the bulk of the juice,  keeping one bin of grapes to vinify like red wine- doing punch downs etc. We extracted only 515 litres of juice from each ton of Viognier- you can get over 700 litres of juice from white grapes if they come from irrigated vineyards

The clear juice has been decanted into 500 litre barrels to ferment.

A further 16 tons of Pinotage arrived on Monday- wonderful grapes with beautiful ripe flavours at fairly restrained sugar levels. It is very satisfying to see these beautiful bunches of organically grown grapes.  The team worked till very late but still didn’t manage to crush everything yesterday…….. some fruit being left in boxes in the cool cellar  till this morning. We moved the cooling plates as the new grapes need to be cooled down now.

All of the viognier skins have been moved into a Pinotage fermenter to co-ferment with Pinotage- this makes a really yummy component .

This morning I was back at the bottling company- then home for a tasting with a group from  International Food and Wine Society. I prepared some snacks which were enjoyed with the wines. We sold quite a few cases too! Emma and I  had customers from UK for lunch, Ben and Susan Foster of Newton wines in Devon- a great customer of ours who wholesale PW in Devon.

Phew! I must leave shortly to go to Southern Cross  to check the Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It has been so hot here and there has been a huge bushfire burning on the mountains across the valley. Paarl valley is shrouded in thick smoke – one can only imagine the destruction to the fauna and flora- though fynbos depends on occasional fire for germination.  I am concerned about the grapes being smoke contaminated.