Wilhelm Joubert and his viticulture team at Hartenberg Wine Estate are farming the best Merlot block in the Stellenbosch area for 2018, according to Vinpro and Winetech’s annual vinyard block evaluation. One of the industry’s longest running competitions, this year saw it celebrate its 42nd year since its inception.
Regions who were eligible for entry included top wine producing areas, which included Stellenbosch, Constantia and the Overberg. Hartenberg, which took top honours for the Stellenbosch region, is situated in the Bottelary Hills, and is well-known for its award-winning Merlot wines. Over the years the estate has garnered numerous awards and accolades.
“The Stellenbosch area traditionally produces some beautiful Merlot wines. We chose this variety as the theme for the evaluation to highlight and show off best practices in the top vineyard blocks to producers,” explains Conrad Schutte, Vinpro’s vineyard consultant for the Stellenbosch region.Rust en Vrede and Delair Graff were placed 2nd and 3rd respectively, which reaffirms the excellent quality of grapes produced from this region.
“Wilhelm and his team applied excellent canopy management in the winning block. The bearers were ideally positioned and the shoots were properly spaced, vertically. The soil was well mapped and prepared beforehand, according to the planned variety, which created an excellent basis for root distribution,” Schutte added.
In light of the current drought producers had to find innovative ways to use water more efficiently without compromising quality and yield. By implementing soil water monitors, producers were able to schedule irrigation more effectively; vigour was manipulated by applying less fertiliser, and more focussed canpoy management decreased evaporation and water useage.
A Farmers Day was held recently in the winning block during which experts gave the following tips:
- Adapt the bearer to the width of the shoot during pruning to ensure good shoot thickness during the growing season;
- Poles of steel are a good option if producers wish to reduce wooden poles; and
- It is practically possible to prepare soil according to precise analysis and recommendation.
“When producers want to use their grapes for high price class wines, no short cuts must be taken,” says Schutte.
The Vinpro Winetech Vineyard Block Competition is held annually in the various wine regions to identify and celebrate best viticulture practices, and to share these with the industry.