How we grow grapes

The start of the growing season in spring begins about the first week of September at budburst. This is when we at Rijk's start to 'grow the wine'. New shoots begin their growth upwards toward the sun.

The start of the growing season in spring begins about the first week of September at budburst. This is when we at Rijk's start to 'grow the wine'. New shoots begin their growth upwards toward the sun.

The management of the canopy is the most important aspect in our endeavour to produce quality grapes. We believe in getting as much light and sun in to the leaves as possible, resulting in ripe fruit, full bodied wines. To achieve this, from budburst to harvest, 15 workers spend every day in the vines thinning, removing unwanted shoots and removing leaves in the bunch zone, opening up the canopy to light and sun. This creates a canopy microclimate perfect for low production quality grapes.

This is a basic summary of the programme that we follow in the vineyards to produce optimum grapes:

Budburst - 1st week September
When the buds start swelling and the first shoots begin to grow - irrigate normally.

At 10 cm shoot growth - 3rd week September
Spacing between shoots thinned to 150 mm apart.
Thinning to 2 shoots per spur.
This is critical as it sets the growth and spacing for the whole growing season.
Full irrigation and fertilizer is applied to stimulate shoot growth.

Flowering - 3rd week October
At flowering vine must be strong and healthy with sufficient soil moisture.

Fruit Set - 2nd week November
When the bunches begin to form.
Irrigate normally.

Pea Size - end November
Remove leaves as soon as possible. If leaves are removed too late, this may cause sunburn on the bunches at a later stage.
Little or no irrigation to reduce growth, bunch and berry size.

Veraison - end December
Colour starts showing in the grapes. 
At full veraison remove uneven ripening bunches.
Shoots with less than 12 leaves - remove bunches as they will not ripen evenly, reducing quality.
Bunch counts are done on every block to determine what tonnage we can expect from each block. If the yield will be to high, we then remove bunches from each vine.
Our target yield is 4-6 tons per hectare.
Irrigate half normal amount of water.

Quality control - one week before harvest
Quality control of bunches - remove any bad bunches in the block.
Check sugar, acid and ph level, taste flavours and check colour of pips.
Decide when to harvest

Harvest - last week January till mid March
All harvesting done at night to get grapes to the cellar as cool as possible to retain freshness and flavours.

Post harvest
Keep vines alive by small irrigations.
Fertilize. After all the hard work, it is now time for the vines to be given some nutrition before they rest.

Pruning
Winter pruning in July - prune back to 2 buds per shoot - this is most important as how you prune will determine the amount of shoots and therefore the quality and yield per hectare.

Rijks
+27.232301622