At Explore Sideways it’s safe to say we’re obsessed with wine – learning about it, talking about it, and most of all, drinking lots of it. And while we spend a LOT of time in the winelands, there’s no time better to immerse yourself in the industry than doing a harvest. Harvest in South Africa usually starts at the end of January with sparkling wine (MCC) and then carries on into April for more of the red wines. But 2016 was the earliest year for harvest in Cape history because it was such a dry winter and hot summer, meaning the sugar levels were up and ready for picking! Our very own Jolize was able to participate in  not just one but two Methode Cap Classique harvests this season. She reports back. 

Jan 7th, 2016: Harvest at Chevallerie in Swartland

On the 7th of Jan, I had the pleasure of going to the Swartland to help Christa from Huis van Chevallerie with harvesting her “rosecco.” 

At 5AM on a Thursday morning in the Swartland I was ready for action!  For a city girl like me there is nothing like starting your morning with views for days and picking deliciously sweet Pinotage grapes for the making of Circa Rosecco. Harvesting bush vines is back breaking work, and it surprised me how quickly we collected 1 ton of grapes, and within 3 hours we were sampling the grape juice to be used for the base wine for this special sparkling wine.

Of course after our hard day’s work we had to remind ourselves what the delicious liquid in the making taste like, and the day was ended with, well what else – Circa Rosecco on the porch. Swartland hospitality is like none other, and after much laughing, eating and drinking, I was up again at 5AM the next day to with a heavy heart make my way back to Cape Town. 

Jan 23, 2016: Harvest at Le Lude in Franschhoek

My second invite came from Paul at LeLude. The geek in me has been begging him to do a Crow Cap vs  Cork tasting from the moment I found out that Le Lude produce Agrafe bottle fermented sparkling wine. Agrafe (Tirage Liège) is the method of fermenting the wine under cork instead of crown cap.

And this Saturday (after getting our hands dirty in the cellar with chardonnay grapes), we were treated to tasting the difference between first and second press juice, as well as base wine from 2 regions. It takes a trained palate to taste the potential in this early stages.

We were then able to taste a variety of zero dosage vintages, and of course the crown cap vs. cork tasting. Such a special experience. After a hearty breakfast we got to disgorge our own bottle of 2013 Brut to take home. Needless to say, we were all covered in bubbly by the end of it, some of us being better at this than others.

I now have an even bigger appreciation for my favourite beverage and the love and attention that goes into making it.