Ernie Els Wines Newsletter – September 2017

27 Sep

All the latest releases, news and offers from the team at Ernie Els Wines.

1. Lowveld roadshow combines fine wine and magic of the African bush
Ernie Els Wines Head of Sales and Marketing, Andrew Harris, made the annual pilgrimage to the Lowveld to showcase the new vintages to a selection of luxury lodges in the Greater Kruger area. The African bush is something magical, which once you experience, is something you will never forget. The sights and smells will remain with you long after you have returned home and serve as a truly unique African memory.

When you’ve acquired a taste for dust,
the scent of our first rain,
You’re hooked for life on Africa
and you’ll not be right again

When you long to see the elephants
or hear the coucal’s song,
When the moonrise sets your blood on fire,
you’ve been away to long

The trip started off with the annual wine trade evening at Timbavati Safari Lodge just outside of the Kruger’s Orpen Gate. A small group of impressive wine producers gathered around the open air fire pit and poured their latest vintages to members of the hospitality trade. The distances that are required to travel from one lodge to the next are vast and the lodges don’t often get the opportunity to taste so many great wines all together. Thus, the evening was a resounding success and is sure to become a favourite in the calendar.

The following evening was held at Tintswalo Safari Lodge in the Manyaleti where a magnificent food and wine pairing was held in the middle of the bush. The guests at this exclusive lodge were surprised, while on their evening game drive, to ‘stumble’ across a makeshift fireplace with goats cheese and grapefruit paired with Ernie Els Sauvignon Blanc while the Kudu wors and Eland fillet were being prepared on the open flame. These were in turn paired with the Proprietors Blend and Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon.

“For an unforgettable African experience I can safely say that enjoying Ernie Els Wines paired with traditional game meat while sitting watching the Big Five can be highly recommended,” commented one of the lucky guests.

2. Ernie Els Wines shine at historic Mercury Wine Week
This August, Southern Africa’s greatest wine estates returned to Durban, KZN, when the Mercury Wine Week opened its doors for the 39th consecutive year. The three-day show was another perfect opportunity for traders, connoisseurs and wine lovers to sample the Ernie Els Wines portfolio.

With The Mercury Newspaper turning 165 years old this year and it being the 39th consecutive Mercury Wine Week, there was extra reason to celebrate. Thus, the week started on Tuesday evening preceding the show with an Ernie Els Wine and Dine experience at The Big Easy Winebar & Grill in Durban. The food and wine pairing experience was like no other, the unique menu had only ever been served once before and that was to Ernie at the official opening in January 2016.

Mercury Wine Week is truly one of the premium wine events in the country and we are already looking forward to participating in 2018.

3. “When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water”
So said Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States. His wise words could certainly be applied to the rhythms of life at the Ernie Els Winery located in South Africa’s beautiful Western Cape, where water’s supply and demand are typically seasonally imbalanced.

As Ernie Els Wines viticulturist, Leander Koekemoer, explains, “This region receives 90% of its annual rainfall in the winter months (April-Sept), when our demand is only 25%, whereas it receives only 10% of its annual rainfall in the summer months (Oct-March), when our demand is 75% of the total excisable water. For this reason, as much run-off water as possible needs to be stored in dams during winter for use in summer.”

The Western Cape Water supply system relies on four main dams, the Voelvlei, Wemmershoek, Theewaterskloof and Steenbras. Together these dams store 475 million m3 of water, which needs to support 3 million people, agriculture and businesses in and around Cape Town Veldrift and Tulbach.

Since 2012, the rainfall has decreased annually to reach a record low in the winter of 2015 when the lowest rainfall in 110 years was recorded. This was also the year that saw the highest recorded temperature on earth, with Vredendal reaching 48.3C on 27 October 2015. The current water shortage is worse than the drought of 1946 that some of our parents and grandparents may recall. Indeed, Ernie Els receives its scheme water from the Theewaterskloof dam that stood on only 23.9% on 11/09/2017 compared to 48.5% the year before. As a consequence, effective water management has never been so important and, of course, it impacts directly on our operations here at the winery.

Berry development goes through three stages. First, after berry set, a phase where cells multiply in individual berries. Then, a lag phase where the gene expression changes, taking up so much energy from the plant that the berry seems to stop growing for a period. And finally the third phase, when verasion and phenolic ripening take place. Unwanted water stress during any of these phases will result in retarded development depending on the level and timespan of the stress.

“At Ernie Els Wines we are committed to use our available water as efficiently as possible,” adds Koekemoer. “Firstly, we measure the water status of vines with a ‘pressure bomb’, an instrument used to determine the approximate water potential of plant tissue. The ‘pressure bomb’ provides a reading of the vines current water status, which we use to ensure that we only irrigate if the vines are in need of water. Secondly, we measure soil moisture content with soil moisture probes towards optimal irrigation. Under-irrigation will result in more frequent irrigations that lower the efficiency of the water use, as evaporation takes a bigger percentage. Over-irrigation, on the other hand, results in a direct loss of water as it seeps into the deep soil and drains away. The soil moisture probes ensure that we do not under- or over-irrigate. We have also committed to replace all our existing micro sprinklers with drip irrigation in 2017, as its efficiency is higher. Using these tools we aim to increase our efficiency in our thirst to produce quality wines.”

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