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When small holds a big promise


Rietvallei Harvest  ‘23

With the latest harvest in the home straight at Rietvallei Wine Estate – over a period of some nine weeks – winemaker-owner Kobus Burger is upbeat about the quality promise. This, despite the total crop size expected to be significantly smaller than usual.

“It is definitely going to be a vintage for the books, quality wise,” he said. We see this in the white wines which are already fermented dry, as well as the intense colour of the reds during and after primary fermentation.”

In line with early reports on the state of the complete harvest from all the country’s wine-growing regions, the estate’s smaller harvest arrived earlier than usual – with the Sauvignon Blanc first to be brought in during the first week of January and due to be finished by the week of 20 March, with the Cabernet Sauvignon.

“The reason for this, as we realised very soon, was the much lighter yield, with the vineyards being more beautiful and healthy than in many years. It reminded me of my father’s (the late Johnny Burger) words, ‘a pretty vineyard does not necessarily mean a large crop’, and this is truly so.”

The ‘factory’, he said, referring to the foliage, is in fine shape and the crop light – this being the reason for the grapes developing sugar so soon. The reduced weight is a direct result of smaller berries.

Kobus believes that last year’s later harvest, in turn, had had a significant impact. The vineyards did not have enough time to build reserves after the harvest before entering the important winter dormancy period.

“But the upside of smaller berries, of course, is more concentration and better quality, as already seen at this early stage. Unbelievable!”

Meanwhile, Hennie Visser, the Vinpro viticultural consultant for Robertson, said that   a smaller crop by about 15% is expected in Robertson. If this materialises, it would be the smallest crop in the district in more than ten years.

Vinpro consultation service manager, Conrad Schutte, said the indications for the latest industry crop estimate report are 9% down overall on last year and that its duration varies from area to area.  


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