Hout Bay Vineyards - Winter Open Day – Saturday, 29th May 2010
As summer fades and another winter approaches we look back on a harvest that proved to be extremely challenging for the wine industry in the Western Cape, prompting us to ponder nature’s supreme indifference to the best-laid schemes of mice and men. Strong winds during the blossoming stage of the vines and an early onset of downy mildew on the grapes resulted in yields being reduced in some cases by thirty to forty per cent. We heard that in some areas wine growers decided to forego the harvest of certain blocks and varietals altogether, and the yield for Chardonnay was extraordinarily low.
Despite this setback, and as if to make amends, the quality of the diminished harvest turned out to be very high. Our Sauvignon Blanc grapes were exceptional and our base wines for the bubbly (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) are the best we have produced so far.
As Peter was ‘between two jobs’, the extra time he had on his hands resulted in us making a lot more wine, exceeding the quantity of 6000 bottles per annum, which we promised we would never pass. Our maiden vintage in 2004 was a mere 300 bottles compared to the nearly 9000 for 2010.
We have expanded our range by making a dessert wine using Rhine Riesling grapes from the Buitenverwachting wine estate, and a port from all five traditional varietals. It is our intention to produce a ‘pipe’ of port every year from now on (a pipe is larger than standard wine barrels, normally 550 litres). The dessert wine will be available as a vintage in three years’ time and the port will be released over a twenty-year period. Initially an LBV (late bottle vintage) will be available in five to six years’ time while the aged, tawny port will be released in stages of ten, fifteen and twenty years, the last of which will coincide with Peter’s 70th birthday.
On a personal note, this year marked his fiftieth and, to add to the occasion, Peter and Cathy quietly tied the matrimonial knot on the 9th of April, surprising everyone with the news at the birthday party.
We seem to be getting ourselves deeper and deeper into the wine business. A further major investment saw us replacing our old basket-type winepress with a pneumatic press which we imported from Germany. Owing to the steep gradient of the driveway, the press could not be delivered in the normal manner so we resorted to towing it up the incline behind the Willy’s jeep. The new press ensures a gentler and more even pressing of the grapes, which ultimately will improve the quality of the wines as well.
We are pleased that the reputation and recognition of Hout Bay Vineyards continue to grow, mainly on a national scale but, after a number of enquiries from overseas, also internationally. Looking ahead, and to guarantee that you get the best from them, we intend to release our wines only when they are ready for consumption, rather than expecting the buyer to know when to open them. So look out for the older vintages in years to come!
Attendance was excellent at the open day in November of last year and we hope you will join us again for the next one on Saturday, 29th of May when we will be releasing our Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petrus, all from 2008. We are especially proud of the Petrus, which is more well-balanced and ready-to-drink than the one from 2007. We have also bottled a limited quantity of Petrus in magnums (1.5 litres) which are ideal for gifts and dinner parties.
We look forward to seeing you and all of your friends again. As you walk in, look out for the two black swans on the duck pond - Peter’s birthday present from his family.
written by Wayne Matthews