Niel Groenewald reckons that the 2017 vintage is one of the best he’s had so far during his 13 years as the Bellingham winemaker. “Everything worked in our favour,” he says. “I rate it higher than 2015, possibly even as good as 2009. Certainly the wines are a lot more accessible earlier than we’ve had for a long time.”
Most of the fruit is sourced from the Perdeberg and from Stellenbosch, particularly from Bottelary Hills and the Klapmuts area. “We brought in 74% of the grapes in just two weeks,” Groenewald exclaims. “Talk about crazy pressure and crunch time in the cellar! It is such a good vintage that the fermenting wines didn’t need a long extraction time on the skins. Everything was ready faster.
“Especially in the dryland areas, there was a bit of extra rain in the vineyards relative to the 2016 vintage,” says Groenewald. “Not that much of it reached the big dams such as Theewaterskloof, but farmers in the Swartland weren’t crying like they did last year and tonnages were up across the board in the areas that we source from – also including Darling, Durbanville and a little bit from Elgin.