2024 Harvest Season Celebration with Robertson Winery| Pressby Robertson Winery
Harvesting Insights: A Chat with Robertson Winery’s Cellar Master
As the sun-kissed days of summer start transitioning into the cooler temperatures of autumn, vineyards come alive with the vibrant hues of ripening grapes, signalling the arrival of the harvest season. From January through April, the vineyards buzz with activity as teams of skilled workers meticulously pick the grapes at their optimum ripeness. Each varietal is carefully assessed, ensuring that only the finest fruit makes its way to the winery.
Amidst the flurry of activity, we had the privilege of stealing a few moments with Rianco van Rooyen, Cellar Master at Robertson Winery to delve into the intricacies of the harvest season at Robertson Winery and explore the intricacies of winemaking through the lens of those who craft these exquisite wines.
1. How do you consider the optimal time to harvest the grapes, and what factors contribute to the decision of which grapes are picked first during the harvest season?
We work closely with the farmer through our viticulturist. Optimal ripeness monitoring involves multiple visits to the vineyard and, of course, the tasting of the grapes. We do lab analyses to confirm what our taste buds picked up is correct, and then it’s time to bring the grapes to the cellar.
2. Can you walk us through the journey of a grape from vineyard to bottle during the harvest season?
Early morning harvesting of the grapes is followed by a gentle pressing action to extract the juice that will be used for wine production. The juice is slightly clarified and then transferred to stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels where fermentation takes place. Once fermentation is completed, the wine undergoes a short period of rest on its lees for extra complexity, and then it’s blended and off to bottling.
3. How do you ensure consistency and quality across different varietals during the winemaking process?
Our vineyards stay the same year after year, giving us access to a similar grape source. In the cellar, we have certain techniques that we rely on yearly, and this helps give us a wine of consistent high quality.
4. What role does sustainability play in Robertson Winery’s approach to winemaking, particularly during the harvest season?
For us, it’s crucial and an important way of thinking. Our big focus areas for now are responsible water use as well as energy savings.
5. How does the current harvest season compare to the conditions experienced in 2023, and what impact has it had on the timing and volume of the grape harvest at Robertson Winery? Could you elaborate on any unique challenges or highlights that stand out from this year’s harvest season?
The current harvest season presents unique challenges compared to 2023, with unexpected late rains causing rot in certain grape bunches, resulting in a smaller overall crop size. Nonetheless, our team’s resilience and adaptable processes shine through. We remain dedicated to crafting exceptional wines, navigating each harvest season with passion and commitment.
6. Are there any upcoming releases or special wines that consumers can look forward to from Robertson Winery following this year’s harvest?
Our Sauvignon Blanc 2024 looks particularly promising as well as the Sauvignon Blanc Light 2024.
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“For the team at Robertson Winery, the harvest season is not just a time of hard work; it’s a celebration of nature’s bounty and the artistry of winemaking. From the selection of grapes to the careful crafting of each wine, each stage of the process is done with a deep respect for the land, dedication to excellence and a commitment to quality.” – Rianco Van Rooyen, Cellar Master at Robertson Winery.