From the Vine: Hand Harvesting Grapes at Keermont.
This all started on the very first day we were in the winelands. Keermont was our first visit, and after a magnificent day of touring the vineyards and tasting through the portfolio, Mark, the owner, introduced us to Alex Starey, the winemaker. Mark said that if we had free time to help with the harvest in any way, we were welcome to lend some hands – whatever time we had, doing any part, would be appreciated. We considered the offer and noted we had Saturday morning free before our appointments in Paarl.
After rising at 4:30AM that morning, we hurriedly got ready and drove from our lodging to the end of the Blaauwklippen Valley where we were slated to begin our morning of harvest. We joined the picking crew among the rows of Viognier to start; the berries were plump and ready to make their way to the cellar before the sun warmed up the vineyard too much. This Viognier was destined for the magnificent Terrasse white blend, which I am thrilled is now available in Pennsylvania through Dreadnought Wines.
Next up we hit the cellar to assist with lugging around these freshly-picked crates of Viognier and allowing the interns to begin their crush. We then hit the hillside vineyards to harvest some bush vine Syrah, which was truly back- and knee-breaking work. Remember that these vineyards aren’t all trellised, and the berries are often found low to the ground – and when you’re doing this as quickly as possible in the heat of the Stellenbosch sun, it gives you even more appreciation for the men and women who perform this task at lightning speeds.