Du Toitskloof newsletter okt 2015

And then you reach the winelands of the Breedekloof. It is a magnificent tapestry of green vineyard leaves, young and freshly growing and stretching out as far as the eye can see. The youthful leaves are draped in neat rows on the vines, and in four months' time they will be covered in grape bunches.

Currently however, there is a feeling of renewal and life in the Breedekloof valley and we are waiting expectantly for the grapes to form that will determine next year's wine quality.

Leon Dippenaar is VinPro's viticultural consultant who works closely with Du Toitskloof's 22 member farmers. He knows the vineyards and the region like few others, and according to him the conditions on the farms are indeed befitting of Leipoldt's description.

“It is clear how evenly bud break occurred this year,” says Leon. “This is always a good sign, because if there's one thing any wine farmer – or winemaker! – wants, it is balance. Evenness is a good indication thereof.”

The vineyards started budding a bit later than last year, around the first or second week of September. “Sure the winter was cold,” explains Leon. “Just because it wasn't very wet, does not mean we did not experience a cold season. The vines were therefore able to rest properly, and even bud break is one of the signs of health.”

At the present moment, in October, the weather conditions are as close to perfect as can be. “It is cool with fresh breezes keeping the temperatures low and giving the vineyards the opportunity to develop slowly,” says Leon. “A calm, unhurried growth period results in good grapes and even yields, so let's hold thumbs that the current conditions are a precursor for the rest of the season.”

Michelangelo Gold 
WHILE the viticultural consultant and Du Toitskloof farmers are doing their thing shaping up the vineyards, there has also been much activity on the winemaking side. At this year's Michelangelo Wine Awards, one of South Africa's most prestigious wine competitions, winemaker Shawn Thomson and his team received two gold medals.

These were for the Du Toitskloof Dimension Red 2012 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Petit Verdot) and the Du Toitskloof Merlot - always a difficult variety with which to achieve gold due to the competitiveness of the category.

“Awards like these mean a lot to us - especially being honoured by Michelangelo as the majority of the judges come from outside South Africa and thus bring their international standards to our industry,” says Shawn.

“It is a tribute to our members who supply such outstanding fruit, and also to my cellar team. We work with substantial volumes of grapes, and to then also make wines that win awards says a lot about the team's individual ability as well as the way we work together as a team.”

Moreover there is the importance of competition achievements in the marketplace. “It's common knowledge that the wine buyer reaches for the bottle bearing the gold sticker,” says Shawn. “Thus while the gold medals for our Dimension Red and Merlot are a feather in the cap for the wine farmers and winemakers, we believe that it will also help to build Du Toitskloof's reputation for top quality wines.”