Gathering the Midlands harvest

2012-03-10 00:00

ABINGDON Wine Estate, which makes the only certified estate wines in KwaZulu-Natal, began harvesting early on Thursday morning.

“The first day of picking is always exciting,” said Jane Smorthwaite, who with her husband Ian owns and runs the winery near Lions River in the the Midlands.

Jane and helpers on the estate began picking the white grapes for their Chardonnay 2012 at 5 am to ensure that the grapes stayed cool.

“It’s vital to keep the grapes below 15 degrees,” said Jane. “Once it gets too hot we have to stop, so normally at around 9 am we stop picking until the next day.”

Abingdon Wine Estate makes eight different types of wine and will spend the next two months picking grapes — starting with the white chardonnay and picking the red grapes last so that their flavour is fully matured. The wines will take until December before they are bottled and ready for sale.

The Smorthwaites have been working on their wine estate for the past 11 years and this year sees their first full harvest since the winery’s inception.

Abingdon’s maiden vintage, the Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2007, was the first certified estate wine made in KwaZulu-Natal, meaning that every grape used in the wine comes from their estate.

In 2010 the winery saw the release of five new certified estate wines, as well as the first Chardonnay and Wooded Viognier released in January 2011 and a Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve released in August 2011.

“The style of our wine is very European,” said Jane.

“The colder climate and high vineyard give our wines an elegant French style that is very different from Cape Town wines.

“We also do everything by hand and use a basket press to press the grapes.”

Abingdon’s wine tasting room and restaurant are open every weekend and on public holidays.

• tharuna.devchand@witness.co.za

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