Suddenly summer is here in full force - and so is the harvest! Cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche shares his initial expectations of the 2024 vintage.
The most recent prediction from industry organisation, Vinpro, is that the overall 2024 South African wine grape harvest will be about 7% bigger than in 2023. Volumes will, however, stay lower than the average of the last five years as last year's harvest was exceptionally small. At La Motte, the yield seems substantially higher than the Vinpro predictions, predominantly because of the good moisture in the soil having a positive impact on the vine reserves.
We can't talk about the growing season without referring to the exceptional winter conditions of 2023. Just as we finished the 2023 harvest, cool and wet conditions set in, aiding in the recovery of vines. Winter followed with ideal low temperatures ensuring proper dormancy in the vines. The rainfall was above average, supplementing soil profiles and replenishing resources, but then there was more rain. The first floods happened during June with about 200 mm of rain during the first two weeks alone. Due to the timing of the rain and vines being in their dormant winter phase, the excess of water didn’t have a real influence on quality.
Spring brought the second flood of 2023. We measured 250 mm of rain on La Motte during the weekend of 23 to 25 September with even heavier downpours high up in the mountains. Damage to farm infrastructure and the wet conditions made it difficult to get into the vineyards and we were concerned about diseases. Thankfully, eventual windy and dry conditions eliminated most such concerns.
These wet conditions were still too early to be detrimental to flavour concentration and complexity and having sufficient water and a long, cold winter ensured even budding and fruit set. Because of the cool conditions, budding was late, but as warmer conditions set in vines made up for the slow start and the harvest started about a week earlier than last year. A mild start to January, a sensitive phase of the ripening process, was conducive to the development of flavour concentration. Our grapes are healthy and we are very positive about the quality.
Current high temperatures and the fact that late cultivars such as Cabernet Sauvignon already shows veraison in the vineyards, contribute to expectations for a short harvest season. As we try to pick all our grapes at the optimum ripeness levels, I think we can expect capacity challenges, early mornings and a few late nights in the cellar!
It is my 24th harvest at La Motte and I am blessed with dedicated and experienced teams, both in the vineyards and in the cellar. We've upped our resources for the season with another general cellar worker and two wine-qualified harvest hands - one all the way from France.
No two harvests are the same and we invite guests to experience the 2024 season for themselves. Join us for a harvest experience that will take you from the vineyard to the cellar and concludes with a tasting of La Motte wines and of course, our famous harvest-time mosbolletjies! Read more.