Drought. This has been the word on most peoples lips the past year, from a farmer to an accountant.
The past few years, rainfall has slowly declined, and temperatures have gone up. Dam levels continue to decline, as day ‘zero’ approaches. We have to really start changing our way of thinking about our water usages and start living more water conscience. (We should have done this a few years back already, but it is funny how we only react once the problem knocks on our door.)
But not all is negative; as I am writing this, the rain is lightly falling outside, and that brings so much joy. I am looking at lush bushvines, wearing the most beautiful green ‘coat’, despite this dry season,
2017 growing season has been a tough, dry and windy one, with very little rainfall – only 258 mm instead of an average of 350mm.
We are fortunate enough to get water from the Breede River, but we can only retrieve this water when the river has fresh water, and that only happens when it has rained in the mountains, which has not been too often. But we stay hopeful and there are still places whom are worst off and can not give any water to the vines, and they are still coping.
In June 2017 before we started pruning, we made a decision to prune slightly ‘harsher’ leaving only one bud per shoot, in hope that the vines do not struggle too much, and send the energy they have, to those shoots. This has definitely had an effect on our yields, especially our white varieties.
We also decided to be a bit more pro-active with weed control, since weeds can really ‘steal’ a lot of water from the vines. (Timing is key when it comes to weed control.)
I am still expecting great quality, definitely less yield from the whites and perhaps a tad less from the reds, but grapes there will be.
The ripening have been slightly uneven in some varieties and there has been some stress due to a few extremely hot days. I have realized vines are pretty tough plants, and although it has been a difficult season they will still produce grapes of excellent quality.
We kick off the season today, 25 January and once again those nervous butterflies start flying around in my stomach, but each year these butterflies ‘flap’ softer and I feel more at home each year, here in the dry, rocky soils of Malgas.