As you may have seen from our Facebook posts, I just spent several weeks in South Africa for the Southern Hemisphere harvest, three of which were working as a harvest intern at Beyerskloof Wine Farm in Stellenbosch. When I wasn’t interning, I had the amazing opportunity to tour various vineyards in Breedekloof and Piekenierskloof, the regions where we source our grapes for The School of Wine. Besides learning a bunch (pun intended) of information about growing and harvesting grapes, I really enjoyed the beautiful countryside and the extraordinary people so much, that I wanted to share some of my experiences with my fellow wine lovers.
The Breedekloof region is located on the Western Cape, just about 90 km outside of Cape Town. In this region, the grape vines are trained on a trellis system using Vertical Shoot Positioning. Breedekloof grapes are picked at 23 degrees Brix, which is a measurement of how much sugar is in the wine grapes and ultimately determines the alcohol content. Harvesting at 23 degrees Brix promotes a balance between sugars, pH, and acidity.
Unlike the Breedekloof region, grape vines are Bush Trained in the Piekenierskloof region and sit at a higher elevation. Grapes in this region are picked at 25 degrees Brix, which is typical of Bush Trained vines and results in a more concentrated fruit profile.
Grapes from the Breedekloof and Piekenierskloof regions, including Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz, are all harvested by hand for premium quality. Don’t miss my next post where I’ll be discussing what I learned during my time as a harvest intern.