More of a pictorial than written essay this time, simply because pictures speak louder than words.
A bit of background to the vineyard at The Vineyard first. Lady Anne Barnard and her husband, Andrew built their home on this Claremont site at the end of the 18th century. At the time, it was surrounded by vineyards. They, of course disappeared as the southern suburbs grew.
Fast forward to 2008, when The Vineyard is now a hotel owned by the Petousis family, with Roy Davies the General Manager. Their goal is to make The Vineyard a number one wine destination; planting a new vineyard in the spacious grounds seemed like a good first move. It was either a vineyard or a herb garden on the chosen site; the vineyard won!
As a family owned hotel, Davies and the Petousis family had the idea of inviting other family owned wine farms to be involved in this vineyard: Klein Constantia (then owned by the Jooste family), Meerlust, Simonsig, Waterford and Warwick all came on board and, along with various media (including myself) and friends, helped plant the five rows of vines, two of semillon, three of sauvignon blanc, in November 2008.
Every year since, we’ve met to prune the vines. Five years later, in February 2013, the first, tiny crop was harvested. All 76 kilos were taken in small crates to Klein Constantia, where winemaker Matt Day had the task in a big cellar of turning this boutique quantity into wine. As harvesting had to be carried out in a hurry because of impending bad weather, not many of the regulars managed to be at the main picking; a few bunches had been left for a symbolic harvest by the rest of us a few days later.
Plans for bottling the first wine could be made with less haste and, in fact, was timed to coincide with this year’s pruning morning last Saturday morning.
The following is a record of both. Apologies for the rather too small photos, something I yet have to get to grips with but I hope it gives an idea of what this fun project involves.