The winery launches a new activity.
We are at the tail end of the harvest season. With all the grapes having been picked—even the late-ripening varieties—and classified, the winery is now in full swing with the winemaking process.
As the end of October nears, and before harvest is officially over for the season, we are still seeing a lot of activity in the vineyards—even after the grapes have been plucked off and trucked to the winery.
The Wine & Country Club’s Vines In October
As the last of the grapes are brought in at The Wine & Country Club, the leaves across the countryside begin to turn colours that display an impressive blanket of fall foliage. Colour transformations are not limited to trees, as grapes leaves that grace the vines turn from their various shades of green to magnificent reds, vivacious yellows, and picturesque coppers. Holm oaks, in contrast, keep their beautiful green foliage – as can be seen in the centuries-old holm oak that dutifully guards the La Caldera wine estate.
After the grapes have been harvested, we like to do a nice, prolonged irrigation across the vineyards. We also add in fertiliser to replace some of the nutrients that the vine uses during the season to produce fruit. Then, we hope that they store up nutrients and settle in for the winter months, so that come spring, they are able to awaken and push out new buds with all that stored energy. Farming in the winter months takes on a slow and regenerative feel. It is a hopeful time when the vines and their humans get a little rest and recharge. It also does not last long as pruning will begin before we know it – well into January.
Meanwhile in the winery, the frenetic activity has subsided slightly. The pump-over process, which ensures that fermentation is even and the extraction of all the beautiful aroma and flavours from grape skins is maximised, is completed. This is one of the most important early steps in the production of premium quality red wine from The Wine & Country Club. It is the moment that imbues a newly-pressed wine with its dark colour, which eventually, as a finished wine, stains your glass that eye-catching deep, dark red. At this point, the winemaking team, led by Ana de Castro, taste the wine in order to classify it. This is when residents at the wine-producing properties are able to sample their private label wines for the first time.
The Wine & Country Club always provides scenic backdrop, but this time of year steps it up a notch – take in the beauty and the sweeping views that provide a 360-degree view of Mother Nature’s work in action.
The Vines Go Dormant Over The Winter
In between harvest and when the vines start to actually shut down they will be transferring any carbohydrates from the leaves and active plant parts into the roots. This is why it is important to get the water and fertiliser on while there are still leaves in the vines. These stored carbohydrates/sugars will stay in the roots and will be used by the plant to initiate and sustain bud break in the spring, when the weather and soil warm up.
Shortening days and cooling temperatures trigger leaf fall and put the vines into dormancy. It is usually official after the plants drop most of their leaves and the water stops flowing through the plant. Although there is not a set temperature or climatic condition that works for all varieties, late-November in our neck of the woods is typically when the onset of dormancy begins.
Once we feel that the vines have had enough cold nights and are in dormancy we will start to prune the shoots. Typically, we do not want to prune until there is no sap (which is mostly just water) that seeps out of a cut we make to the old cane. Pruning at The Wine & Country Club happens in January.
Finding yourself at The Wine & Country Club at the tail end of the harvest season is an experience second to none. And seeing those grapes go into a beautiful bottle of premium custom wine is extremely rewarding.
We hope all this farming talk makes you thirsty!