May – Back to Basics
The holiday is over, and everybody is back to start the preparation for the winter months ahead. Autumn is still in full swing and there is a serene calmness blanketing the winelands. We are now waiting for the winter rains to bring the promise of next year’s harvest.
To prepare the vines they have to be pruned. This is just the first round of pruning and is intended to force the vines to rest without spending too much energy on maintaining all the additional leaves, spurs and canes. If done right, it will encourage the right number of shoots to form in the spring when the second round of pruning will take place. This is also the start of the rainy season and it is important to get as much of the work required in the vineyard done on the sunny days.
In the cellar
Over the next few months there are a lot of movement in the cellar – literally. Managing stock can be an art form in itself. The older vintages have to be moved to the front of the cellar to make space for the newbies that will spend another year or so in the bottles before entering the market.
The new wines have now started showing their true colours, in a manner of speaking, and the winemaker will make recommendations on the future treatment i.e. which cultivars need to go into barrels, for how long etc. Now is also the time to book slots for bottling and labeling. Decisions including the style of bottles, colour of the bottles, cork vs. screwcap all come into play and it can become quite daunting, but in the end, it is all worth it when that first bottle comes fresh of the line.