Since the early 1980s we’ve been harvesting at night. This approach is a way to preserve grape quality as well as the delicate aromas and flavours of the freshly picked grapes.
With the 2017 harvest well under way, we catch up with our winemaker, Stephan de Beer to find out how things are going.
Tell us more about night harvesting.
The aim is to get the grapes into the cellar as cool as possible to ensure quality of the juice by not letting the flavours oxidise. This means that we start harvesting at 2am until around 10am when the grapes are at the coolest.
What does a day/night of harvest look like?
Well, we start at 2am with the picking and crushing of the grapes. The vineyard will be filled with grape pickers with headlamps, while in the cellar we’ll be busy pressing the grapes. During the daytime the cellar will still be busy: racking of the juice, preparing yeast, making “wine”. We end at around 5pm.
What are your predictions for this year’s harvest?
The grapes look really good and healthy so if all goes well then this will be a very exciting year for us. We also have new Pinot Noir blocks that we are picking for the first time, and the fruit is looking amazing.
Anything else you’re excited about?
We recently upgraded our harvest cellar so I’m extremely happy and excited to work in the new harvest cellar as well as the new laboratory. New toys are always fun!
How many vintages have you worked at Twee Jonge Gezellen, and what year stands out and why?
This will be my 9th harvest. The year that stands out is 2014, as this was when we started with whole bunch pressing: we don’t de-stem grapes with a de-stemmer but we press the whole bunches as they come out of the vineyard.
What drink will we find in your hand after a long day’s / night’s harvest?
An ice-cold glass of Krone MCC, or an ice-cold craft beer.
Any special harvest traditions at TJ?
We’re all looking forward to the end-of-harvest braai!