At the time of writing the picturesque Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge is clad in cloaks of magical mist. Although the vines are slumbering in their deep winter hibernation, work in the vineyards never ceases. Pre-pruning (also known as borselkop pruning) is now the order of the day and according to assistant winemaker Michael Malan this process makes the shoots more manageable during the final pruning, just before spring. Michael comments:
Pruning is a highly scientific practice and a vital factor in the cycle of grape and wine production. This is where you set the standard for fruit quality. One has to ask a few questions, such as: What is the vigour of the soils and the vines? How many tonnes per hectare do we want? What is the cultivar we are working with? What is the age of the vineyard and what is the style of wine we have in mind for this vineyard?
All these factors have an influence on the way we go to work. We prune the vineyard to achieve a certain crop size. To determine this, we prune each fruit-bearing position to a certain amount of buds, knowing that each bud produces two bunches.
A Virus-free Legacy
Another important aspect of pruning at Creation is the virus-free status of the grafting material that the estate supplies to Vititec, to establish new vineyard sites across the country. Vine viruses (especially leafroll) are regarded as one of the wine producer’s biggest enemies as they have the potential not only to reduce the lifespan of a vineyard drastically but also to seriously hamper the quality of the grapes.
The issue of virus-free vineyards has been close to Creation owners Jean-Claude (JC) and Carolyn Martin’s hearts ever since they established their estate in 2002. The land had never been planted to vines before and JC, who is a Swiss-trained viticulturist and winemaker, had the foresight to plant only virus-free clones. This was done in consultation with Vititec and his vines were the first virus-free mother blocks to be planted post-apartheid in South Africa.
The advantages of having virus-free plants at Creation are visible not only in the healthy vineyards, but also in the quality of the perfectly ripe fruit, producing wines of rare elegance, balance, distinction and finesse.
According to Michael the blending of the 2016 red blends has commenced and the first to be bottled at the end of July are the Creation Syrah, Grenache and the Creation Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, both of which show great promise. To order the award-winning Creation wines online, click here.