Each harvest presents its own set of surprises and challenges, just as growing seasons do. Balance is key and requires well-considered decisions to be made; when we harmonise with nature, we are rewarded with elegant and well-structured wines.

Having experienced a below-average winter in terms of rainfall, we supplied supplemental irrigation to our vines slightly earlier and more frequently than usual. December, however, brought along 45mm of rain which re-saturated the soil profile just as our vineyards began to show water stress. This moisture allowed the final few leaves to grow, bringing the vines into a balanced state.

The moisture restraints up to this point resulted in smaller, more concentrated grapes, and accordingly a more concentrated harvest, about 15% less than the previous five vintages. By comparing this to the preceding drought years, it is evident that winter rainfall plays a crucial role, even though the assumption is often made that the vines are dormant during the winter months.

As harvest approached, January and February had mild to warm temperatures, with only one precipitation day each. These conditions allowed us to provide small amounts of supplementary irrigation to keep the vines at the appropriate restraint level, contributing to the development of grapes with character and depth. A period of warm weather occurred early to mid-February, which might have caused the initial sugar accumulation we noticed, however, the balance was perfectly restored with 24mm of rain received on 20 February, just before harvest commenced…

We had an earlier harvest than expected. The Merlot, Shiraz, and some Cabernet Franc grapes came in just before the rains set in. The early grapes produced beautifully dense and extracted wines. If we had to pick one cultivar that needed it most, Merlot would be the choice 99% of the time. It is quite rare for our Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen before all Merlot is harvested, yet we found them phenolically ripe with an excellent fruit-to-tannin balance. This balance is crucial since it will form the backbone of our De Toren Fusion V blend.

The harvest period itself was marked by cold and rainy weather, with weekly rainstorms that our team had to monitor closely. Cape Town is normally prone to wind during this time of the season which we saw less of, resulting in a much higher risk of disease. Since we farm organically, we introduced positive fungus strains into the ecosystem to keep negative ones at bay. While there are certain characteristics of the season that would be seen as less favourable,  the vineyards remained healthy, and the grapes remained intense and characterful  – cementing our belief in organic farming’s holistic benefits.

The cold and rainy weather made for some tough decisions. We had to decide which vineyards could handle more rain and cold, and which we would rather utilise for more fruitier and aromatic components. This season was slightly more aligned with the 2019 vintage and the similarities assisted us in our decisions.

Overall, the wines harvested at the beginning of the season were dense and full-bodied, with special consideration for the Merlot. The grapes harvested in the middle of March have a complex fruit profile along with sufficient organic acidity and finally, the grapes that came in last revealed excellent fruit purity and elegance.

We are expecting the wines to show a more refined body and tannin structure with the overall impression being elegance.

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