As the last few batches of wine of vintage 2015 finds their way to barrel, I think it is a good time look back on our last vintage.  Vintage 2015 followed the very large 2014 vintage.  We had a very good winter with some good early rains and a few very cold days starting already in April. This was great for the vineyards because after ripening a “big” harvest they needed some rest. The cold and wet weather put the plants in an early and long rest which is for me more important than having good weather in harvest.  The winter was long and we had plenty of rain almost 40% more than the long term average for Stellenbosch. So in a nutshell it was a dream winter for the vineyards, but not always for the humans living in sunny South – Africa.

Budding was 10 – 14 days earlier than usual. Because of the very good winter all organic vineyards had a very even budding which is always a very good sign. Not a lot of rain during flowering and we were also spared with the dreaded “black” South – Easter which usually makes havoc to the vineyards towards the end of October.  Crop size was good enough and because of the lovely budding a good quality harvest was on the cards. Not really any mayor infection by any mildews and in general  a good year also for the viticulturists. We had no rain to speak off from end of October to middle of April.

Our 19th harvest at Laibach started with a bang, a very, very early bang. We already received our first grapes on the 20th of January, about 3 weeks earlier than the previous year. Everything went as expected with each varietal picked in its usual time slot. We had a very good ripening season because of great mild temperatures during the harvest.  Seemed like the grapes ripened in slow motion which is not only great for quality but also for managing a quite full winery.  As expected harvest also finished very early for us and it was the first time ever that we did not have to be babysitting tanks on Easter Holiday. Looking back at some weather data it was the coolest February since 1974 in Stellenbosch and if you talk to some older legends in winemaking they will tell you that 74 was the vintage of the century. Just need to mention that after the very cool February we had the hottest day in the last 100 years early in March with temperatures reaching middle 40’s.

So what will be exciting about this great Vintage. Chenin Blanc had great ripeness levels and a wonderful natural acidity. This makes for crisp fresh wine that you can drink young but who will have enough complexity to keep a few years. Also parts of this will end up in our Organic Ladybird white which will add freshness and lightness to the final blend. On the red side look out for amazing Pinotage not only the popular still red one but also the very successful  Ladybird MCC which is mostly made from our local grape. Brilliant year for Malbec and especially Cabernet Franc which will make blending even more exciting next year. Maybe another great Ladybird red next year. Merlot also did extremely well and I think we have the potential to produce something spectacular for release in 3 – 4 years. In conclusion it was a great year all round. As a winemaker you do not get too many of them in your career. So watch this space.

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