Harvest report 2024

We finally wrapped up the 2024 harvest on April 9th, pressing off the last tank of grapes, a batch of beautiful Elgin Syrah. It was the culmination of a fun, intense and at times challenging 10 weeks.

Harvest kicked off early this year. With our first grapes, Pinotage coming into the cellar on 23rd January a full week earlier than last year. We had several weeks of intense harvest activity followed by a lull and eventually some grapes later in the season.As usual we sourced grapes from growers in several locations.

We finally wrapped up the 2024 harvest on April 9th, pressing off the last tank of grapes, a batch of beautiful Elgin Syrah. It was the culmination of a fun, intense and at times challenging 10 weeks.

Harvest kicked off early this year. With our first grapes, Pinotage coming into the cellar on 23rd January a full week earlier than last year. We had several weeks of intense harvest activity followed by a lull and eventually some grapes later in the season.As usual we sourced grapes from growers in several locations.

WELLINGTON – WELGUGUND FARM.

An extremely wet winter on Welgugund followed by a warm spring resulted in early and abundant flowering with great bunches set. This was followed by a long dry spell leading up to a warm December with hot spikes. It was also very windy during December. The effect of these dry conditions and the wind was a considerable reduction of most of the crop on Welgugund.

The first grapes we harvested were Pinotage off a hillside block, on 23rd January. We were staggered to see how extraordinarily ripe, dark, and powerful the fruit was. The dry conditions promoted extremely small grapes ad bunches, and wind damaged thinned the crop out on various sections of the vineyard, We harvested selectively to avoid wine damaged sections of the vineyard. We had planned for 10 tons of grapes from our rows, but there were only 5 tons available. The new wine is staggeringly delicious, if rather unfasionablyhigh alcohol.

Next off was grenache, on 26th January. This has to be the earlies harvest date, ever. The crop was also down, but the quality exciting. We opted to whole bunch ferment. In two 1500-liter open tanks. This involves tipping grapes straight from the picking bins into the fermenter and once a few hundred kgs of grapes are in the tank, one of the chaps in the cellar jumps in with his gum boots and foot stomps the grapes to break up some of the bunches. A further few hundred kgs are added and the same procedure followed till the tank is full. We use a commercial “Rhône style” yeast when we whole bunch ferment.

The process takes a great deal longer them fermenting crushed grapes and we eventually emptied the tanks and pressed the new wine four weeks after harvest. The 2024 Lycaon grenache is looking excellent.

We normally buy Carignan from Welgugund, but there were no grapes available as the vineyard was badly wind damaged.

The beautiful heritage chenin vineyard on Welgugund is in the base of an old water course, a wet land, and more sheltered from the wine, so we got out 6 tons of grapes.

We opted t harvest over 2 days =, 6th February and 12th February. The early harvested portion has great clarity and freshness and the later portion a bit more texture and richer fruit. We processed the grapes very slowly in our half ton small press. It took around 14 hours to process each batch of 3 tons of grapes.

Fermentation was with wild yeast and took place in a mixture of flex cube, clay amphora and old barrels. I’m excited by the prospect of this wine, Lycaon Chenin 2024

KASTEELSIG – SWARTLAND.

Conditions here were more benign than in Wellington. The soil is different, being shales which hold water well, and the wind is normally less severe.

The crop at Kasteelsig was up on last year, but also harvested early after the long dry warm spring.

We harvested Syrah on 8th February. Once again, we used wild yeast and fermented in small open bins. The larger than average crop led to us being offered a second batch of the same organic grapes on 20th February. We opted to whole bunch ferment a portion of these grapes. The new wine is dense and firm despite having lower than usual alcohol.

Mourvedre also came into the cellar on 20 th February. The quality is outstanding, we destalked and fermented in small bins with natural wild yeast. The new wine if dense and dark.

SILK BUSH, BREEDEKLOOF

Conditions here were very similar to Wellington, with one major difference, vineyards on Silk bush are irrigated.

Again, we harvested early, and at higher sugar levels than previous. Viognier came in 3 weeks earlier than last year on 15th February. We struggled to process the grapes with our small crusher and press, and our wine tank cooler blew up leaving us in a precarious position.

I called my old friend Anthony De Jager at Fairview and he kindly offered to help us, and we drove the grapes over there on 17th, Saturday morning after the grapes had been in our cool room for 2 days. The large press and better cooling allowed us to process and settle the grapes very well and on Monday 19th Feb we moved the new juice back to the cellar and not fermenting eggs and barrels for fermentation. It will be a luscious ripe style of viognier.

The Breedekloof Pinotage for Lycaon Pinotage also pitched up on 20th Feb, 10 days earlier than in 2023. Once again, the grapes were very ripe. We chose to ferment with its own yeast and nothing else added. We have made a slight tartaric acid adjustment after

fermentation. The new wine expressed the normal bright fruit and elegance we have got used to from this vineyard.

LEEUWENKUIL – VOOR PERDEBERG ,PAARL

The yields in and around Leeuwenkuil are all down, though the quality looks good at this early stage. We will soon bottle the first wine from them, the 2024 Den Rose and chenin Blanc.

Grenache blanc juice was transported to Painted Wolf and fermented in out barrels, and we are expecting Roussanne which we will mature in out clay amphora and new French oak barrels,

ELGIN RIDGE- ELGIN

We have a new supplier in the Elgin region, Elgin ridge. This is a cooler viticultural region. We bought 5 tons of very juice dark coloured syrah grapes to trial. So far, we are optimistic abut the quality of the new wine.

We were delighted to welcome Alix from the US who again brought her experience and hard work to our vintage. She travelled with a friend from the US, Thomes who despite being a tea- totaller was roped into helping which he did with great spirit.

This was Freds second harvest, and his skill and wine sensibilities had come on in leas and bounds. He and Deamus, a young man who joined us in December from the Pinotage academy worked unbelievably hard and have done a great job.

We once again had to plan our way through numerous power outages, one of which burnt out the new cellar cooling system only hr second time we turned it on. The repair has been costly and has taken a long time as parts needed to be specially manufactured. Our trusty old press also had a couple of mechanical and electrical problem, which we fixed. Luckily we had repaired the old basket press which Emma and I bought in 2007.

The team were up to all of the challenges, and we are excited by the outcome of the vintage

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