What a busy year it has been for Rhebokskloof Estate! To kick 2023 off our team was hard at work in the summer season toiling the vineyards for this year’s wine harvest! We spoke to our Cellar Master, Rolanie Lotz to share her insight and prediction for this year’s vintage.
“The warmer weather we experienced last springtime resulted in early flowering and fruit set in our vineyards, setting the stage for a successful wine harvest. Heavy rain showers during the first weeks of December eased the pressure on our irrigation scheduling, ensuring optimal conditions for grape growth. Luckily, we could escape the hail damage that other producers in our area experienced, further safeguarding the quality of our harvest.
The hot and sunny growing conditions during January and February accelerated the ripening process, culminating in grapes that were fully ripe and bursting with concentrated floral and fruit aromas.
Our 2023 wine harvest started a week earlier than the previous year when we pressed the first Chardonnay bunches for our Cap Classique on 17 January, signalling the beginning of an exciting season. We were pleased with the overall quality of all our early varietals, a testament to the favourable climate conditions and meticulous vineyard management. Production volumes on the Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Pinotage were higher compared to 2022, thanks to the good, even fruit set that occurred.
The hot and sunny growing conditions during January and February accelerated the ripening process, culminating in grapes that were fully ripe and bursting with concentrated floral and fruit aromas. Our vineyard and cellar team’s commitment and hard work during this period were instrumental in achieving such outstanding results. The exceptional quality of our grapes translated into exceptional wines during the fermentations.
We were extremely fortunate to pick almost all of our later ripening cultivars before the hefty rainfall of early March, avoiding any potential dilution of flavours. Our Shiraz blocks, which comprise 34% of our total plantings, were harvested two weeks earlier than the previous season, allowing us to capture the grapes’ optimal maturity. Despite slightly lower yields, the Shiraz grapes exhibited more even ripening this year, characterized by small bunches and berries, promising greater concentration and more intense fruit flavours in the final wines. To further enhance our winemaking capabilities, we acquired a couple of smaller fermentation vessels this year, enabling us to vinify more components separately and experiment with new and different techniques.
Our harvest concluded on 15 March with our bush vine Mourvédre block, an important component of our renowned ‘The Rhebok’ blend. As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of the last of our new French oak barrels, this exceptional varietal will rest in the barrel for the next 12 months, allowing it to develop and mature gracefully.
After a very condensed and exciting wine harvest that kept us on our toes once again, we feel incredibly optimistic about our 2023 vintages. The combination of favourable weather conditions, diligent vineyard management, and skilled winemaking techniques sets the stage for wines of exceptional quality and character. We look forward to sharing these exquisite wines with wine enthusiasts and exploring all the possibilities that lie ahead. Experience the fruits of our labour with our exquisite wine harvest from 2023.”
Take a look at some of our 2022 Harvest highlights!