The first day of my vintage experience in South Africa’s Elgin region was spent at Iona. I was with Werner Muller, the winemaker, for the day. Iona have three properties: the Iona farm itself, Brocha, and Langrug – all are quite different. Langrug is the first to be harvested and is now finished; Brocha is part harvested; and harvest has yet to begin at Iona.
We began by visiting Brocha, where some Syrah was being harvested today. This is a rocky, stony site with interesting soils. Syrah is grown here alongside Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and also a bit of Semillon.
The Syrah arrived in the winery and Werner decided he was going to ferment this with whole bunches in small plastic bins. The grapes were tipped into each bin by forklift, and Werner stomped them around a bit to release some juice, to get the fermentation going quicker. He also added a bucket of fermenting Sauvignon to each, again with a view to getting things going quickly. The bins were then sealed up with plastic wrap around the lids, and they’ll be inspected at regular intervals to check their progress.
We had a look at the Kloof block on the Iona vineyard, which produces the first of the home estate Pinots to be harvested. The soils here are really distinctive.
Then some Riesling turned up. This was to be pressed whole bunch. So we pulled the press out into the open, and got it ready. The draining tray on the press was connected to a pump, which was connected to the receiving tank, which had been flushed with inert gas. The press was filled by tipping in the grapes, and then it was started.
The juice that comes out is quite brown in colour, especially at first. This is because of phenolics in the grape skins and flesh oxidising and turning brown, and it’s quite normal. During fermentation this all cleans up. As the juice filled up the press tray it was pumped into the tank. The only addition was to be a bit of sulfur dioxide and some white tannin. No settling enzymes were used.
Finally, we took a trip out to see two another vineyard: Langrug. This is a really interesting 14 hectare vineyard planted on distinctive koffieklip soils. There’s Pinot here, plus some Sauvignon, and two hectares of newly planted Nebbiolo, which will be very interesting. Langrug is an interesting spot, and the 2017 Pinots, which have now finished fermentation, taste lovely.
Here’s a film of the day:
ELGIN HARVEST EXPERIENCE