2023 Harvest Happenings
28 March 2023
Harvest happenings; an insider scoop on the 2023 vintage
Created for the real wine lovers and aficionados among us, we catch up with Cellarmaster, JD Pretorius, to unearth the highs, lows and and future gems of Harvest 2023. Consider this the only cheat sheet you'll ever need.
He's a busy guy in the after throws of harvest, the busiest time in any winemaker's diary, plus we can see he's itching to get back to his 'office' behind closed cellar doors where the fun is about to begin, and so we get right down to the brass tacks.
The 2023 harvest got off to a flying start with grapes coming in earlier than expected, how have these conditions differed from a more traditional harvest period?
"We had a rather strange lead up to the 2023 harvest season. A wet November/December season mean that disease pressure was high and rain during crucial stages of development, such as berry set, sped up the ripening from early stages. The weather in January was cool, but February made up for it with a bang and is always one of our hottest months in the Cape. This year was no exception, with recorded temperatures of around 35 degrees for 7 consecutive days and with minimal temperature drops in the evening, causing sun damage and raisin-ed berries. This in itself is not a huge issue, but coupled with the rain in February and March, caused some challenging pick calls."
How would you define a successful harvest?
"A successful harvest is made up of a healthy crop size, all of good quality, and being able to harvest the grapes at an optimal time ensuring that they are processed in the cellar as quickly as possible. We are lucky in South Africa that even in unfavourable vintages, we are still able to produce stellar wines. Vintages like 2023 make it slightly more challenging to do so, but we have a super dedicated vineyard team that picked exactly when we needed to and capacity in the cellar was prioritised in order to process quickly. So even though 2023 has not been an easy one, I would still call it a very successful harvest."
What are the biggest challenges winemakers / viticulturists face during any harvest?
"As mentioned above, our biggest challenge is always centered on harvesting the grapes at the optimum time. This year we had a very small window to pick, due to multiple rainy days. We had far less days of processing, but higher volumes done per day. Even though we had a small window, I am confident we took the grapes off at the best time and we able to process them without any compromises"
Warwick has a rich history of producing excellent, award-winning red wines - what makes our little corner of Stellenbosch so unique?
"Warwick is on the Northern side of Stellenbosch and therefore the hotter side. Characterised by deep red soils with a high clay sub-base and hot days needed to fully ripen grapes, but with enough water holding potential in the soil to sustain the vines through the ripening period. This results in full and rich wines with lots of power, but still with an element of restraint and freshness. These elements make for great wines that reward patient cellaring; wine which evolve beautifully over time."
So - there you have it! The full scoop from the man in the know reporting on a unique harvest and one that's sure to result in some standout wines. Seems like 'Chardonnay' is the one to watch, certainly getting the wine production team excited and as always, despite the challenges, harvest and the frantic busyness of days that start before dawn and end long-past sunset, thanks to the shared vision and utmost dedication from both our vineyard and cellar teams, we have another very successful harvest under our belts and only a matter of time until we can uncork and celebrate these fine wines together.
Need any more reason to celebrate the immense effort that goes into every bottle?! The end result awaits, perfectly crafted, packaged and soon to be delivered to your door. Shop your Warwick favourites now.