April – Hunting Season



April – Hunting Season

With all the wines tucked safely in their barrels and tanks and all the public holidays upon us it is no wonder that most of the farms may seem a bit… quiet.  This is the perfect time for the hard working viti and vini-culturists to take a well-deserved break.  There seems to be a mass exodus of farmers making their way to the game farms or coastline or any place that promises the same unlimited sense of space will do, just without the vineyards.

This is also the time when the leaves in the vineyard start their yearly show by using their leaves as a canvas to showcase the warm colours that are synonymous with Autumn in the winelands.  The mix of reds, yellows and orange are mesmerizing, perfectly combined and just… Awesome.  Unfortunately, this show is not allowed to last too long.  Upon their return to the farm it is all hands on deck for the farmers and the workers to start with the first round of pruning in the vineyards.

In the cellar

With the fruits of the harvest now resting, it’s time to look at the planning for the year ahead and to start scheduling the release of the next vintage.  This involves the great science of looking into a crystal ball and projecting what the market will be looking for in the upcoming months.  Combine this with the actions of the competition, the utterances of the politicians and the impact of global warming and you might just be able to come up with some strategy to share your wines with the broader community.

The winemaker might also decide to filter of fine wines at this stage to give it better clarity.  This gets rid of suspended solids that might give wines a cloudy appearance.  Even if clarifying your wine is not an issue, some fining agents also reduce astringency or bitterness, remove off-odors, and strip out browning caused by oxidation. Thus, the condition of the must before and after fermentation will determine whether you want, or need, to fine it.

New words:

Fining: Removing amino acids from wines through the use of fining agents.  Fining agents bind to these proteins and they drop out of the wine, leaving it clear. Most fining agents are a protein of some kind (casein from milk, egg whites, fish bladders, etc).

Viticulture:   The science, production, and study of grapes. It deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. It is a branch of the science of horticulture.


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Tanya Liebenberg

All stories by: Tanya Liebenberg