No Matter The Weather
The year started with warm and dry autumn, followed by below-average winter rains. This posed a risk of low yields with uneven ripeness for sensitive varietals like Chardonnay and Shiraz. Spring rainfall also declined to below long-term averages, causing uneven budding on Chardonnay and random vineyards of most cultivars. December brought relief with a massive cold front and welcome rains, but severe disease pressure followed, especially for areas closer to the coast.
A Promising Start
The slow start to the vines in September resulted in a 7-10 day delay in harvest compared to 2022. However, growth improved in December, stimulating growth in most vineyards. Early indications of great quality fruit, predominantly white grapes, showed a promising start to the harvest. The late rains in February helped the late ripening and dryland vineyards, but it didn't stop raining until the end of March, causing major disruptions and threats of disease in all our vineyards. While pests were relatively quiet, powdery mildew caused by very favorable humid conditions was the biggest problem for most vineyards. The warnings for producers were given throughout the flowering and bunch development phases, but the real damage was only visible just after the New Year. The good news is that our team worked hard to overcome these problems, and we did not harvest from any vineyards that did not meet Spier’s high standards of quality.
Promising Organic Plantings
There has been a big focus on new plantings of organic vineyards on our own farms, as well as procuring grapes from the West Coast region for our wines. The first vintage of newly planted Chenin Blanc and Grenache Noir was received, and it looks very promising. The lighter crop did benefit the quality all-round, and the Sauvignon Blanc from Koekenaap is looking rather exceptional this year. We're eager to see how these grapes continue to develop in the coming years!
Old-School Interventions Come Back to Farming
At Spier, we're focused on introducing and planting cover crops to promote nitrogen fixing in the soils and decrease dependency on chemically made nitrogen. We've seen promising results during the last season, and we're exploring all avenues on our regenerative journey. We'll continue to enlarge our footprint in our own vineyards and extend to our fellow producers. Watch this space!
A Shining Vintage
Despite the challenges, early indications of our wine show great accessibility and fruit-forwardness in Sauvignon Blanc, riper and more expressive Chenin Blancs, and more opulent and viscous Chardonnays. Red wines are more elegant and smooth, promising early access to our wine friends. As one wine critic put it, "Spier always shines in the more elegant vintages."
We can't wait for you to taste the delicious results of our 2023 journey!