According to Pieter-Niel Rossouw, cellarmaster at Darling Cellars, rainfall figures in the region have varied from 380mm to 580mm, far better than was measured over the past three years.
“Being a region where most of our vineyards are unirrigated dryland bush-vines, Darling lives and dies by the amount of rain it receives,” says Rossouw. “With the cold, wet winter and the refreshing rainfall during spring and early summer, we are expecting a harvest 10% up from last year which should see the cellar handling 9 000 tons of fruit. However, the extended drought of the past few years has still prevented the root-systems from getting into full-swing, so we expect our total crop to still be some 28% below average.”
Darling is one of the Cape’s premier cool-climate wine regions situated 75km north of Cape Town and 25km from the Atlantic Ocean.
“The effects of the past few dry years are still seen in the vineyards,” says Rossouw. “There is good growth but the drought definitely affected overall fertility. Yield is not where it should be. But we are upbeat looking at our region: The green carpets of healthy vines set against the backdrop of the dry grain-fields and fynbos is an awesome sight. We’ll do another harvest prediction in January once the grapes have turned to veraison.”
Yield-wise, Sauvignon Blanc vineyards are bearing well along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinotage, while lighter crops are expected from Cinsault, Chardonnay and Shiraz.
“No signs of diseases have been detected, and with the northerly winds during spring, flowering was delayed which should see us harvesting two weeks later than average,” he says. “Most important is that as we prepare for the vines’ dash to ripeness, conditions are terrific. Cool evenings and mornings with mild sunny days. Add the good moisture levels of the vineyard soils, and we are expecting some very interesting wines from 2019.”