Ready, Steady, Harvest! January 2017

Everyone should have some time off in December, but a viticulturist in particular deserves a December full of beach, braais and good wine. Because no sooner have the Christmas leftovers been eaten and the garish socks and ties exchanged at Woolworths, than suddenly it’s time for the harvest − the most frenetically busy time of the year on any wine farm and a particularly stressful period for a viticulturist.

“The harvesters will work in teams of between 40 and 45 from sun-up to sundown”

Org de Rac viticulturist, Marius Kotze, will “walk the vineyards flat” this month, testing the sugar, acid and pH of the ripening grapes, trying to determine the exact time to harvest each cultivar, and at a moment’s notice bringing in large teams of workers who will deftly and efficiently fill crate after crate with bunches of choice, organically grown grapes. The harvesters will work in teams of between 40 and 45 from sun-up to sundown, sometimes in searing heat, to make sure that the grapes are harvested and processed efficiently.

Perfect timing is the key to a successful harvest and the decisions made by Marius over the coming weeks are critical because they will ultimately determine the quality of the wine produced. If the grapes are picked too early, they won’t be ripe enough, but leave them too long on the vine and they become over ripe. All a viticulturist can do is rely on the increasingly sophisticate technology at his or her disposal, draw on the experience of seasons past and, if inclined, offer up a little prayer. Mother nature can easily spoil a good harvest with an unseasonal downpour or a heat wave.

Fortunately for Org de Rac, Marius has almost three decades of harvests under his belt. He grew up at Groot Constantia and during his school holidays worked in the farm’s vineyards – the oldest in the country. After completing a diploma in agriculture at Worcester Agricultural College, he spent 17 years managing a wine farm in Stellenbosch and then, in July last year, he and his family moved to Org de Rac, seeking a quieter life in the platteland. Although he’s farmed grapes for all of his working life, at Org de Rac he is using organic farming methods for the first time. Already he’s a convert:

“This is a way better method of farming, it’s farming close to the earth,” says Marius enthusiastically.

With so much resting on his shoulders, we certainly hope that Marius had a good break in December and we wish him and his team a great harvest!

Marius Kotze

Marius' Choice
Marius Kotze

    Although Marius is not much of a wine enthusiast (don’t tell anyone, but he prefers beer!) he recommends the Org de Rac Merlot Reserve, a wine he describes as “fruity with a beautiful nose”.

Org de Rac winemakers describe the Org de Rac Merlot Reserve 2014 as “a feast of concentrated berry fruit flavours combined with undertones of cigar box, leather and rich vanilla”. It is best paired with rack of lamb, rare sirloin and chocolate deserts. 


Watching the weather

It might look small and unobtrusive, but the weather station at Org de Rac performs a vitally important function: with pinpoint precision it monitors the weather, enabling Marius and his team to tend to the needs of the vines.

For example, by precisely measuring temperature and humidity, Marius can manage the water table more efficiently, irrigating at just the right time of day and for an ideal length of time. In essence, the weather station at Org de Rac takes some of the guesswork out of farming and, especially in a time of drought, is worth its weight in gold.

    January specials

This month we are giving you a second opportunity to try one of our popular export wines: the Org de Rac Swedish blend. The wine is a finely balanced blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

For this month only, the Org de Rac Swedish blend is available at R45 per bottle and/or buy a case of six bottles of Org de Rac Unwooded Chardonnay 2015 and receive a 6% discount!



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