harvest Archives | Zonnebloem

Posts Tagged ‘harvest’

The timeless quality of Zonnebloem Wines

Posted on: 21 May 2020

2020 harvest feedback from our Cellarmaster

Harvest time in Stellenbosch is always an exciting experience with crisp early mornings, walking through the vineyards, tasting the juicy grapes to determine when they are ripe for harvest, and the rush of receiving the grapes at the cellar.

This year, harvest kicked off particularly early in mid-January, and from there it was all systems go for Zonnebloem. Led by Cellarmaster Elize Coetzee, our team had their hands full, starting with the first pickings of Sauvignon Blanc on the 23rd January.

Elize knew it was time to announce the start of harvest after having completed several walkabouts through the vineyards. “At Zonnebloem, we are all about tasting the grapes until we feel the concentration is correct to pick. Luckily, we have worked with these blocks for many years and know exactly what to look for,” explains Elize.

The harvest also posed a whirlwind of challenges and what marked to be the most tons the Zonnebloem team have taken in at Adam Tas in recent years. “It was a season of learning and hard work. We had to navigate ourselves, as well as our teams to the best of our abilities, in order to make wines that we can be proud of,” says Elize.

Thankfully, the picking period was completed prior to the looming threat of national lockdown. In preparation, Elize explained that the Zonnebloem team had to ensure the tanks would be safe and healthy throughout the lockdown period.

“We [had] a team that [came] in during the first week of lockdown to ensure that tanks could be racked, and that already racked tanks were full and healthy. On the red side, we were still busy pressing during this stage, we actually received our last grapes the day before lockdown started. We had a skeleton crew come into press tanks and top all other tanks to ensure our wines would be protected during the lockdown stage.”

Despite the challenges, there are still plenty of highlights to reflect back on. For Elize, it was working in a brand-new cellar, equipped and set up for the team to make even greater wines. In particular, Elize can’t wait to use the first Galileo spherical tank available in South Africa this year to develop some elegant and exciting red wines.

When it comes to Zonnebloem, it should come as no surprise that year on year, the focus remains on drinkability and quality.

As she reflects on another vintage wrapped up, she adds that the Zonnebloem team made beautiful wines that both she and the team are proud of. “Teamwork does pay off!” she ends.

Zonnebloem Cellar Master’s nicknames for vineyards

Posted on: 11 February 2020

Nicknames. You either love or loathe them! But one thing is unmistakable – nicknames are terms of endearment. A stranger wouldn’t dare call you Homer, Guppy or heaven forbid, Sweet Cheeks. Such personal ‘call signs’ are solely reserved for those who have been allowed within the boundaries of your inner circle.

It’s just a human way of expressing love. Sometimes these inside jokes stick for life and in many instances move from being one person’s affectionate nickname to what everyone from your boss to your mother-in-law calls you. Isn’t that right, Hank? I’m just so grateful that my father’s Posduif nickname for me has never gone beyond his lips!

Jokes aside, just like family and friends develop their own ‘secret code’ language, so do we with the vineyards where we source our grapes from for Zonnebloem.

This year marks my 15th harvest with Zonnebloem. And I can’t help but reminisce about each vineyard block that I know so well.

Just like a teenager, I have sweaty palms and butterflies in my stomach as I daily visit each block around Stellenbosch in anxious anticipation of that thrilling moment when we just know: the grapes are ready for harvest.

It’s this very intimacy, this ‘insider’ language that we share with the vines as we read the signs on the berries, watch the weather, squint at the sun and breathe in the wind, that gives us the right to give nicknames to each vineyard block. There are many – Snake, Dam, and Sokkie – the list goes on, sometimes back into the mists of time, the origin of the name long forgotten.

It’s our shorthand of admiration and affection.

Our very own code in our personal relationship with the land.

These vineyards share their location, secrets, personality and language of love with such generosity. We can’t help but fall head over heels! The diverse slopes of our vineyards in Stellenbosch each have their own individual character – from blocks shaded by the high mountain peaks from early afternoon to the rocky terrain where fynbos thrives. The area is terroir-heaven for sourcing exceptional grapes for our wines.

One of my fondest memories of naming a block is the vineyard where we source our Sauvignon Blanc grapes from Stellenbosch Kloof, a grower who has supplied Zonnebloem for three generations. I was still very much a novice and one day as I stood with seasoned grape grower, Marais Neethling, deciding whether it was time to harvest the grapes or wait a little longer, I noticed a significant difference between the one side of the block and the other. I casually pointed it out to him, not thinking much of what I’d meant as a general comment. But then he pointed out where the line clearly ran transversely through the block as the soil type changed, slicing the vineyard into two symmetrical blocks, like a sandwich.

On that very day, the block became known as Toebroodjie (‘sandwich’ in Afrikaans). The difference between the grapes on each side is so significant that we have been harvesting them separately ever since. And it’s with this very block that we have started our harvest for 2020. It couldn’t have been more symbolic to me than this. One of my beloved blocks whispered in my ear and said: the grapes are ready for harvest.