14/05/2021 | Robertson valley | South Africa
With all the Van Loveren grapes harvested, safely in the cellar and some of the 2021 wines already bottled, it’s time to reflect on one of the most memorable harvests of the past 20 years. With a late, wet winter and mild weather conditions during the growing season, harvest started later than average and finished well into April.
Snow-capped mountains in September last year put excitement in the air. This was the blessing of our first proper winter in almost five years. The prolonged cold season together with cooler spring temperatures and rain-drenched soils delayed budding and flowering of our vines.
The growing season (October, November and December) was characterized by chilled evenings and moderate day temperatures, with a mild wind that contributed to healthy shoot growth and good fruit set.
By early January we were eager for harvest. But we waited and waited some more …five days…ten days… There were frequent visits to the vineyards to measure sugars. Finally, in great anticipation, we started the 2021 harvest a whole 15 days later than the usual. With an early morning rise, we started harvest of the first of 1 000 hectares of Van Loveren vines, stretched over 80km, east to west up the Breede River Valley. Big blue harvest machines, tractors, and hand-picking teams greeted passers-by on Route 60 and 317.
The first cultivar harvested was Irsai Oliver; then, our famous Christina and Van Loveren Chardonnay. The No 5 Chenin Blanc followed, with beautiful tropical fruit characters; then, Semillon, Perlé de Jean Pinot Grigio and Bussell`s early-release - the well balanced Van Loveren Sauvignon Blanc. There was a lot of eagerness, but the response was firm: “No, no Neil! You must still wait with your pick!”
January and February flew by. A WhatsApp from Phillip noted at one point: “More than 60% of grapes remain on the vines”. It quickly became evident that this could be one of the latest finishing harvests in the history of Van Loveren.
With March came the harvesting of our winter warmers: Red and White Muscadel; Christina Pinotage, rich in aftertaste; Durif; Roobernet; and, Van Loveren Pinot Noir. Hennie notes about the latter: “It tastes like a winner!”. Then, came Grenache; Zandvliet Shiraz Rosé, showing off its rose-gold colour and blossoming with freshly cut flowers on the nose; and, the Van Loveren Merlot, coated in soft red berries on a finely knitted palate.
The arrival of April saw a tired, but a spirited team aiming for the fishing line in the west. Next up was Cabernet Sauvignon, dark in colour; Ruby Cabernet; Viognier; and, Shiraz, not to be outdone, with its rich bouquet and smooth palate. Joining them was Mourvedre; Carignan; Petit Verdot; Touriga Nacional; and, finally - on April 27 - Neil picked his Colombar.
All in all, we harvested 1 000 hectares, 22 cultivars - over 19 000 tons in a total of 15 weeks.
Now, we raise our glasses to an A-team performance. To our fan - the consumer - we give a big thank you for the continued support. Enjoy any of the Van Loveren wines with someone special!