Harvest 2001: Walker Bay

Bouchard Finlayson's Peter Finlayson started harvesting Pinot Noir on 26 January, and he says 2001 looks good. 'We've got very good colour - just look at that gauge glass on the tank if you don't believe me,' he said, pointing to a glass strip of dense violet liquid. Bouchard Finlayson has already brought in 24 tons of quality Sauvignon Blanc, with more on the way.

Next door, Kevin Grant at Hamilton Russell offered a tank sample of their violet, black cherry-flavoured 115 and more tannic 777 clones of 2001 Pinot, saying they're 'really excited' about results. Grant predicts a good vintage earmarked with finesse and a natural acid line, which will be 'probably our most seamless vintage to date'. Yet the impact of the Western Cape's summer drought has been felt, and they will be installing irrigation for their dryland vines.

Gordon Johnson at Newton-Johnson and Cape Bay says they worked hard to get their Sauvignon in last week. 'It's the first year we haven't added acid, which is really unusual. The pH and acid levels this year have been excellent,' he commented, echoing other producers in the valley. The company is making homegrown Pinot Noir for commercial release for the first time, harvesting four-year-old vines. Expect greater things when Pinot plantings go into better soils further up the valley. 'We thought it would be a quick short harvest, but now the sugars are lagging - we're still waiting for our Kaaimansgat Chardonnay,' Johnson concludes.

Further along in the Hemel en Aarde, new cellar Sumaridge hasn't even started bringing in Sauvignon planted around the winery, reflecting cooler temperatures that a higher altitude produces. Bartho Eksteen is making their second vintage aside from his own label, but he's hesitant about making predictions: 'Last year my Sauvignon turned out beautifully, despite thinking 2000 would be the worst after that hail in Bot River!'

Bot River's 2001 vintage is probably two weeks later than last year's, according to Beaumont's Niels Verberg. 'Overall the quality is exceptional, the best I've seen here for reds and whites,' he enthused. Their Chenin crop is down, likely as a result of hail damage to vines in 2000, and one block of Pinotage is already in.
'We'll have to be patient with the reds because it's a cooler vintage with slower ripening,' he predicted.