Natural occurrences like the drought currently experienced in the Western Cape often bring side-effects. Bonnievale Wines viticulturist Sakkie Bosman has kept a close eye on these trends around the current harvest.

“The regular southeast winds that blow in the Bonnievale area have an advantageous cooling effect on the vineyards,” he explains. “During the fruit ripening phase, the nights were cooler this year than the long-term average and this had a positive impact on colour and flavour development, as well as intensity of the grapes.”

“We’re very excited about the flavours and quality of grapes we’ve tasted in this season’s vineyards,” he declares.

In terms of water usage for farmland, Bonnievale has the luxury of being able to irrigate, but the drought in the Western Cape has had an impact on the region because irrigation water is released from the Brandvlei – Kwaggaskloof dam. Sakkie says there are also producers situated against the mountains who are therefore reliant on the rain and mountain water.

“Available water has been regulated periodically from October last year, with usage restricted to one or two thirds, or full service/availability of irrigation. Producers adjust their irrigation scheduling according to water available.

“The regulated adjustment has an impact on the production volume of the harvest, because smaller berries develop as a result,” he says. “These smaller berries are positive in terms of grape and wine quality.”

Another occurrence unrelated to wine production has taken place during this time. “During my visits to our vineyards and those of our producers, I’ve perceived an increase in bird and animal life among the vines themselves and in the adjoining fringes of wild veld. I’ve seen caracal, duikers, grey rheboks, cranes with chicks, secretary birds, many falcons and snakes while the number of guinea fowl and pheasants as increased substantially,” says Sakkie.