Reporting On The Year That Was

DTW-Xmas

The wine industry is a fickle beast, never particularly stable, seldom predictable, always at the whims of the weather gods and often, victim of seismic shifts in fashion, political power-plays and exchange rates. Despite this, with our amazing team, from the hands that tend the soil, to those running from office to client, Du Toitskloof has managed to have a mostly positive 2013 and is looking forward to a promising new year.

We were fortunate to have had a decent harvest in early-2013. This is the cornerstone of our entire year. A failed harvest can make the following 12-months, waiting for the next income injection, an unpleasant experience indeed. Unlike most industries, one event predetermines the upcoming 12-months.

We have been blessed with a market that has been loyal to our brand. This enables us to bottle our wines in early-Autumn with confidence, knowing that most, if not all, of our cultivars will be sold-out by the time bottling takes place post-harvest in 2014.

Autumn came early, then late. Our rains arrived on schedule around Easter, but then stopped. We became quite concerned when some new vines attempted to bud in late-May. Heat suddenly surged in the late season and leaf-colouring was erratic. Luckily though, the seasons got back on track and in the last week of May, winter begun in earnest. Despite a lengthy hiatus of warmth in July, the remainder of our rainy season from August till late-September was cold and very wet.

We had two significant snow events in August and September. People outside the industry do not often realise how important winter is to us. Significant mountain snow means significant rest for the vines and we all know that great sleep makes for energetic wakefulness; this bodes well for the growing season beyond. Spring came very late, but rapidly; this has reflected in our later-than-normal season. Our Jacaranda’s only concluded flowering in mid-December – in Gauteng, it’s over by early-November.

Spring not only saw new growth on the vines. It saw the second annual Cape Cuisine Cook-off with Muratie Estate. A successful event that grows from year-to-year, bringing two cellars and the who’s who of the culinary arts together in the Cape Winelands. This year’s theme was Cape-Malay cuisine. We look forward to the fresh, new, endemic ideas for the 2014 event to be held at our cellar once more.

Soon thereafter, we announced the inaugural Wine Writer of the Year Award, in conjunction with Standard Bank. It was to have an esteemed panel of judges and outstanding auditing standards, ensuring objectivity and absolute credibility. We wanted to become synonymous with supporting free-thought and fresh ideas in the wine industry, becoming an incubator for our industry’s creative talent.

The culinary developments with our brand didn’t just stop with the Cape Cuisine Cook-off. In late-Spring, the announcement of the year came, Du Toitskloof Wines would become the official sponsor of South Africa’s premier Afrikaans-language cooking competition, Kokkedoor. This would catapult the brand into more Southern African homes than ever before.

To complement this, we needed to think bigger when it came to distribution. If we were to be distributed digitally over satellite throughout DStv’s footprint, to complement this, we needed our bottles to be distributed far-and-wide, from Kalahari to coast. The partnership between Namaqua Distribution and ourselves was born, taking our wines to more corners of the sub-continent than ever before.

In late-November, the first annual Wine Writer of the Year Award went to Tim James. Despite having few entries, the famous names in this arena were represented. Standard Bank recommitted themselves to 2014. It’s certain, given the credibility earned, that the competition will continue to grow and new names will begin to enter in the coming years.

We had quite a scare in November, when a vicious Black Southeaster combined with a cut-off-low to bring the Western Cape some of the heaviest rainfall ever recorded in November. Some regions of our province, like Somerset West, experienced significant damage and some loss of life was even recorded. We were fortunate to come out relatively unscathed, except for some sporadic damage near rivers draining mountains to the south-west. Our harvest seems to have weathered the storm mostly unscathed.

Now as 2013 draws to a close, the summer heats up and the grapes ripen, our 2014 harvest is looking pretty good, despite the ups and downs. Plus, with our new partnerships and sponsorship deals, the new year is looking bright and hopefully, prosperous. We hope we can pass this prosperity on to our producers, our staff and our FairTrade empowerment project, as well as you, by continuing to provide exemplary wines at approachable prices.

Du Toitskloof wishes you and yours a joyous holiday season and a fun-filled new year; may 2014’s challenges bear fruit and may you look back on this coming year in late-2014 with fondness. We look forward to being in your homes’ and at your special occasions’ in 2014 and in many years to come. 

Leveraging Seasonal Tourism

In the Cape, we’re extremely adept at doing summer. As a person who is a vehement foe of excessive heat, I don’t quite get it. I understand most enjoy the constant sun and heat of lengthy days; however, we are typecasting the Cape to our seasonal detriment. The Secret Season movement has had a limited impact.

This lopsided view of what quantifies as an asset to the Cape, is evident in Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Edelweiss and Air France withdrawing and many other air carriers offering a reduced service during the austral winter.  Is May to October in the Cape really that bad? Whose view have we listened to on what is good weather and what is not? If it’s our fellow South Africans, then we’re getting the wrong advice from a biased source. The rest of South Africa knows the milder days of bone-dry winters; of course they’d lament ours.

Northern European summers often resemble our good winter days and some countries are crying out for 16°C highs between May and September. BRICS-nations, like India and China, are stiflingly humid and hot during these months and obviously, the Gulf States are like blast furnaces. The Indians and Chinese would relish our off-season. Although our friends from the UAE, Oman and Qatar may not indulge in the wine, they’ll revel in the associated amenities and other tourism activities.

The Cape is one of the few places on the African continent that truly has seasons, and seasons are a valuable asset. Just ask the town of Bright in Victoria, Australia. Its tourism marketing is focused on the town’s plethora of northern hemisphere trees that change vivid shades in the austral autumn, exceedingly rare to see in our hemisphere.

Locally, the West Coast and Namaqualand does this well during the springtime. Granted, some areas of this region can appear pretty barren during the rest of the year; daisies popping up on any open piece of land are a welcome scenic respite and an obvious draw-card.

The Cape Winelands and the Western Cape as a whole, should be making a more concerted and consolidated effort to debunk the myth that seasons = bad. Not that the provincial tourism authorities haven’t tried, but the entire tourism/conferencing industry, and even local governments, need to help in debunking this myth, to build a more calendar-ubiquitous tourism economy.

Seasons offer diversity and choice. Durban may offer ‘South Africa’s warmest welcome.’ However, where we can offer a warm welcome, a mild welcome or a refreshing welcome, Durban only has a warmest and outright sweaty welcome on offer. Seasons are an asset, we should use it.

No insult intended – just not a personal fan of humidity with heat… Some like it hot ;-)

Urban and some rural landscaping in parts of the Western Cape have failed to cement this. There has been a huge push nationally to use indigenous trees only. This has often resulted in towns planting Fever Trees and other odd choices as street trees. Guess what landscape designers? A tree knows no geo-political boundaries. A tree, although classified as South African indigenous, if from the Lowveld (or elsewhere in SA), is still as exotic to the Cape as an Oak or Liquidambar. If it’s not from the Cape Floristic Kingdom, to nature, it’s foreign. Plus, the aesthetic treatment given to our Winelands towns is the Phalaborwa-look; neither unique, nor apt. A town good at preserving Wineland’s heritage, is Stellenbosch, ardently preserving the Eikestad (oak city) moniker and using urban landscape as a tourism draw.

Other towns can and must do the same, especially those struggling to get on the tourist map. Let’s leverage every asset we have; the blossoming orchards in spring, the warm, balmy grape harvest of summer, the vivid tones of changing leaves of autumn and the verdant fields and snow-capped peaks of winter. Lastly, we need to sell it!

The passage of seasons near Du Toitskloof Cellar - from the same spot at 9:00am in May, July, October & January

The passage of seasons near Du Toitskloof Cellar – from the same spot at 9:00am in May, July, October & January

By: Andres de Wet

The CO2 Belch

I always seem to find myself in the unfortunate position of punting a Climate Change agenda in the coldest time of the year. This gains me little traction with the Cape-majority, begging for the onset of spring. Being in the minority as a winter-person, who relishes the cool, green, freshness of the June to September season, writing this remains critical, as winter only lasts so long and our summers have become vicious indeed.

With the Wine Writer of the Year competition deadline looming on the 27th of September at 16:00 SAST, it is critical to explore this subject one last time. It’s implications are R30,000 for the winning scribe, but millions, if not billions of rands for South African viticulture.

With the Cape winter entering its final month, it gives us time to reflect on the rainy season up until now. Our region is currently on 75% of its annual precipitation. With additional rainfall anticipated for August, we should be able to attain, at or near, average rainfall this year. What we have critically lacked, is cold-days and mountain snowfall. On both counts, this winter has been both erratic and downright dangerously below-average.

Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve in Ceres must be as frustrated is all hell. With no 1,000m snow events for years, it must be harming their winter tourism, not to mention their adjacent cherry farm crop. These snow events used to be a once or twice a season occurrence. This seldom happens anymore. However, does this impact viticulture? Absolutely! If you want to see a wine-farmer freak out, simply see vines trying to bud-break in early-August. This is exactly what we noticed this year, after an unseasonable hot couple of weeks the heart of winter, from late-July to early-August.

The cold, wet and windy weather did return. Albeit not critical at this point, early budding can cause the industry to lose their entire crop. An early-budding event, coupled with late frost and/or a powerful cold front with damaging winds can decimate the delicate grape flowers. The aberrance of the weather can wreak havoc with the industry.

Many urban-dwellers lament the constant cold and rain in the Cape. However, even at my youthful age, I can remember winters of yore, when the sun failed to shine for two-weeks, snow fell habitually on the lower peaks and rain fell almost non-stop. This was the normal Cape winter. What we experience now is a product of human-induced Climate Change. The winter we have today is downright subtropical compared to 20-years ago, never mind in the days of the grandparents.

There are always those who question the human-induced charge, some even debunking change in the climate is even happening. So, let’s look at a nightclub. When the club is empty and the air-conditioner is on, it’s positively frigid. Now pack it with people going ape till all hours of the morning and pretty soon, it is indoor tropical and unpleasantly sticky: Earth, 1800AD, 950-million humans living meagerly; Earth today, 7-billion humans going bananas and still growing. This is case-in-point! The atmosphere is a closed system.

There is simply no logic in the assertion that this unprecedented species-population-explosion would have no impact. Even less logically, when that species is sentient, can terraform thousands of square kilometers in one swoop and that this species loves to “belch” carbon dioxide.

If there’s any doubt that the Wine Writer of the Year competition doesn’t mean the world to us as a climate-sensitive industry, the aforementioned should dispel that. The insights that will be revealed, when the articles are released on the 30th of November, will be an invaluable source of information and may even inform how South African viticulture prepares itself for 2050.

Bud-break and flowering occurring earlier each year.

Bud-break and flowering occurring earlier each year.

Writing the Climate

This article is one of schizophrenia, tackling the seemingly unrelated topics of wine-writing and climate change. Du Toitskloof Wines launched its own Wine Writer of the Year Competition on July 5th. The topic chosen was “The consequences of climate change for the South African Wine Industry.” Someone decried over Twitter that the subject matter was dry. Correct sir, reduced rainfall and excessive heat is very dry indeed.

 

Summer heat waves becoming unbearable & destructive
Summer heat waves becoming unbearable & destructive

I understand what he meant.  However it became clear, few urbanites realise how bad things could get by 2050. Some city-dwellers only realise the impact the climate has on them, when the municipal taps run dry and agricultural produce prices skyrocket. Few realise this topic is the biggest long-term concern for the industry. Short-term issues like land-tenure legislation and labour relations weigh heavily on the minds of the wine industry; but no other issue could cause a literal viticultural apocalypse, like the aforementioned.

Du Toitskloof wants to be associated with sustainable agri-business practices, hence being a proud FairTrade member. Being associated with creative talent giving the industry and wine-consumer perspectives on all-that-is-wine, is another passion. Thus, we’ve created the perfect marriage of topic and project in Wine Writer of the Year.

Many wine-educated people know basics like: Pinot noir prefers cooler regions than Pinotage does. However, what we need to know in the South African Wine Industry is: what will happen twenty to thirty years from now? How will the weather patterns change? Where will vines still be grown and where not? Will Pinot noir still thrive in coastal areas, or will our future climate render it impossible? Will interior districts still be able make quality Sauvignon blanc? The biggest question: Will we still have seasons and enough water?

Whether we like it or not, grapes are Vitis vinifera, a deciduous vine species endemic to Europe and Asia-Minor, originally found from Morocco and Portugal in the south, to Germany in the north and northern Iran in the east. This area has seasons, its nominate climate is wet and cool winters (with snow in the north of the range) and drier, warm summers. If Vitis vinifera loses its seasons, it cannot thrive. It’s a deciduous plant: no winter, no fruit and like all things, no water… death!

South Africa’s wine regions are particularly vulnerable. Situated precariously around 34°South at the mild tip of an otherwise, very hot continent. There isn’t anywhere to go, but into the Southern Ocean, and Vitis vinifera and kelp are not good companion plants. Unlike Europe, South America or even Australia, there isn’t any land further from the equator to migrate towards. Basically, climate change could force the winter-providing, rain-laden cold fronts south of the continent, as the sub-tropical high pressure system strengthens and moves poleward. If this happens, is the gig up? Does the Cape’s favourable Mediterranean Climate cease to exist and become sub-tropical semi-arid? If it does happen, how long do we have left?

Already, snow levels are rising annually, rainfall is increasingly unpredictable, summer heat-waves are getting unbearable and heat-incursions into mid-winter are becoming commonplace. Autumnal colour-change and leaf-drop is becoming more erratic and dull and early-budding more problematic.

This is where the wine writers will be of extreme value. Many of these questions have not been answered. Much of the science, the climatic analysis and agriculture economics have not yet been fused into a cohesive whole, for easy digestion by the South African Wine Industry. The industry can see things are changing, but few answers or insights are forthcoming on this hot-potato topic.

Du Toitskloof has turned up the metaphorical heat on South Africa’s scribing talent. We trust we’ll get some takers and they’ll provide us with some sorely needed knowledge on this “hot” topic. The goal is fostering creative talent and becoming a custodian of knowledge. R30,000 is one small step for wine writers and one giant leap for an industry seeking answers to such a grave concern.

By: Andres de Wet

Wine Writers’ Competition details, log on to: http://www.dutoitskloof.com/pagelist.aspx?CLIENTID=1088&Type=Wine%20Writers&Title=WINE%20WRITERS%20COMPETITION

Whine For the End Of the World

On a day like today, a scorching 38°C in December, one wonders how people can still think climate change is some psychotic-lobby-group myth. After a solid week-and-a-half of unseasonably hot weather, with humidity that is unheard of in our summers, you get plain peeved at those people’s opinions that deny the existence of scientific fact. They are basically saying, “Stuff you farmers, we don’t care if you need to make a living and the climate change you feel is real; we don’t live off the climate like you do, but our belief system knows better than your daily physical observations.”

Then I get to thinking: This could be the end! The summer solstice could precipitate Armageddon anyway, why moan? The Mayan long-count calendar ends the current 13th b’ak’tun on the 21st of December; for those in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice, I might add. So, is this the end of the world, or the end of a particular epoch? Or, as Y2K did, shall it pass with nothing more than another sunrise and sunset?

You may be forgiven for thinking it’s the end of the world in Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands or Tuvalu. Many of these atoll island nations are already planning their mass evacuations due to rising sea-levels. That stupid climate change again…

Or perhaps you’re in London and it’s once again, dreary and bloody cold, with those ‘lovely’ sunsets before four in the freekin’ afternoon! Does the world end in fire or ice? Well, to us in the Southern Hemisphere it must be fire, we’re burning up! To those in the United Kingdom, it must be a winter tempest of epic proportions. To the islanders, we’re all going to drown in water of biblical proportions.

For some, the apocalypse is delayed; it arrives in January with that long list of Christmas gifts gleefully charged with reckless abandon in December. Only, to later bite one’s bank account in the ‘other word for a donkey.’

So as 2012 comes to a close and we all reflect on the year and what may, or may not come, raise your glasses! Forget about all these troubles for a couple sacred days of vacation during the festive season. Forget if 2012 was great or not, forget if the apocalypse looms or not, forget if you’re a climate change skeptic or pundit. Just think: Is it hot or is it cold? Is it time for a red or a white? How many family and friends do I have? How much wine must I get?

For to whine at this time of year is futile, we shall thus wine. Wine and dine and worry about worldly troubles in 2013, for ‘tis the season to be mildly intoxicated with loved ones; as long as one takes public transit or stays put. Whatever the Mayans may have you believe; be certain: If no asteroid hits us, we’ll be looking after the grapes for you, despite our climate being a royal pain in the rear end. Rest assured we’ll be making you the best the vine has to offer for New Years 2013 and beyond.

Du Toitskloof wishes you and yours a trouble-free end to the 13th b’ak’tun, a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Christmas card-2

European Pain, South African Gain?

It is tough to gloat off other producers’ misfortune. Being involved in the wine industry means the pain of poor harvests is understood and empathized with, to the utmost degree. Our season is still in its infancy in South Africa, while the northern hemisphere has run its course and harvest has concluded. However, this season is less than stellar for them.

On the back of a very hot and dry summer, many viticulture regions in Spain and Italy have seen significant losses due to the worst drought in 30 years. Much of the Mediterranean was also plagued by record-breaking wild-fires in the scorching summer of 2012. It is estimated that Italy has not seen such a dismal crop since 1950. It is indeed tragic for our European counterparts.

Decanter also reports that the wine glut is almost over. According to Rabobank in The Netherlands, the demand-supply gap, caused by good crops in the years preceding the economic downturn of 2008 and the subsequent drop in demand because of it, is close to being closed. Global inventories of wine are reported to be at the lowest levels last seen a decade ago.

This coupled with a poor Chilean harvest in 2011 and recent reports coming out of Adelaide, that the Barossa Valley has seen significant frost damage during October cold-snaps; this may herald the season of the South African producer.

The UK supermarket chain, Booths and their wine-buyer, Andy Green, have already told The Telegraph that wine is already being actively sought from countries like South Africa. On the back of all the aforementioned, wine from Europe is becoming more expensive and wine is generally in short-supply. Something we have not experienced since the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

China’s increased consumption, the growth of non-traditional markets, like Africa, plus the recovery of the United States economy, is contributing towards closing this supply-demand gap. Experts, according to The Telegraph, agree that wine prices could rise by a further 10% this year in the UK.

Currently, our growing season in South Africa has barely begun. It is often difficult to predict crop-yields this early in the season. However, the weather conditions at this juncture seem to be playing along with the South African producers. We have seen a relatively cool, benign spring with moderate winds and light rainfall. Winter was unusually, more on the wetter side of the scale, meaning drought conditions this summer are highly unlikely. The El Niño Southern Oscillation, the weather phenomenon which drives El Niño (Pacific-warming) and La Niña (Pacific-cooling) weather events, is also in stasis. This means our Southern African weather patterns should remain close to normal into 2013.

All the above factors could mean 2013 may be the year for the South African producer. If all predictions hold up, the weather cooperates, local producers play their cards right and wine-demand is anything to go by, we could be in for a great year. Although this comes off the back of some dismal crop news from Europe and some hiccups with our southern counterparts, South Africa’s wine industry seems to be mooted to fill the gap. If we can do this in 2013, hopefully we can show off our quality and win over some permanent new clientele; Keep them buying South African wine, even when crops in the northern  hemisphere improve.

Away From Glass

DuToitskloof-Fairtrade 75cl TetraPak wines

I am definitely a wine traditionalist. Nobody can deny the joys of sitting in a gorgeous setting, preferably on a Cape wine estate, pulling the cork out of an elegant bottle, hearing the pop sound followed by the aroma of a stunning nose reaching for oxygen for the very first time. There is nothing like the cork and bottle combination that screams wine sophistication and I’m a sucker for the elegantly-wasted.

However, times are a-changin’ and those who do not follow trends are relegated to the trash-heap of formally glorious brand names, like a viticultural Pan Am. The latest wine-spawn of the ever forward-thinking DuToitskloof Cellar is wine-in-a-box. However, I’m not referring to those now famous three litre boxes, the ones that Constantia house-wives hide in their fridge. I’m talking about their new United Kingdom venture with Waitrose and importers, Raisin Social.

This is a 750ml bottle of wine in a Tetra Pak. You know what this packaging looks like, even though its name may be unfamiliar, the concept definitely is not. Many a trip to Pick ‘n Pay, Tesco or Publix is dominated by Tetra Pak items from milk to juice to even olive oil, so why not wine? After all, who’s 2012 Best Value for Money Cellar? Would we not expect them to find ways of saving on packaging costs to bring the consumer wine at the best prices possible?

“You wine heathen,” I can hear people scream, the vitirati would be appalled and would not be caught dead pouring out of such a low-class contraption. Is there method in DuToitskloof’s madness, is there a glimmer of genius in this blatant anti-traditionalist move?

Fairtrade in the UK is big business and DuToitskloof being as big a Fairtrade project as it is, bringing the cellar’s name and its responsible production partner together in one package, can only benefit the brand.

Glastonbury Festival and Hyde Park concerts are synonymous with this island nation. The Brits love to get out into an open field and have a party, once cloud cover is down to only seventy percent and temperatures soar to a searing 18°C. This is a market that is hostile to the bottle. No glass on the grass, please!

We are British, so also do it green, please. Unlike China, Europe and the UK actually realises that earth’s resources are finite and they actually sign climate accords. Tetra Pak constitutes only four percent of the net product weight, versus forty percent for glass. It’s fully recyclable, can be easily compacted when disposed of, transports more efficiently and takes up less storage space. It ticks all the right tree-hugger boxes, but fails in the, “May I open that for you, monsieur,” department. Not to mention the responsible producer guarantee that comes with the Fairtrade stamp. Unlike China, Fairtrade labour is… well, you get the point!

However, when it’s somewhat sunny, does the UK huddle up indoors or at restaurants? Or does the isle spend time outdoors, sucking up the northern summer for what little it provides. This is the lifestyle DuToitskloof-Fairtrade 75cl Tetra Pak aims to become part of. Bringing wine to the wine drinker where bottle openers, glass and heavy weight is a liability; think a picnic overlooking a glorious sunset with a Cabernet-Merlot or drinking a chilled Chenin-Sauvignon styled white under a waterfall. Now, that’s living life and enjoying life is what the wine lifestyle is all about. So, maybe DuToitskloof is not so insane after all.

Global Warming Wine Warning

Molenaars River – Slanghoek Peak and Slanghoek Needle with snow, seems to be diminishing each year.

Perhaps I should have written this is summer. It becomes almost impossible to punt a climate change agenda when most people are pining for the sunny days of braais and pools to return. However, I chose winter for one reason: we lose it, we lose the crop and you lose your wine.  Winter is arguably our most critical season as it provides the majority of wine-growing regions worldwide with that one thing nothing can live without, water.

Grapes are a Mediterranean crop, this means it thrives best in a Mediterranean Climate, characterised by balmy, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Arguably, the Mediterranean Climate is the most pleasant climate-type worldwide; being neither too cold, nor too warm, being neither too humid, nor too arid, neither frost-prone or snowy. It is situated within the climate sweet spot between the subtropics and the cooler temperate latitudes, between hot deserts and wetter maritime climates. This places these areas at greatest risk due to climate change. Laying in such a precarious sweet spotmeans that any minor global temperature increase can cause the sweet spot to move poleward, leaving that area arid, hot and starved of vital winter precipitation.

It is something that worries innumerable wine producers. We are the first to notice minor changes to weather patterns. A city-dweller’s livelihood is not directly related to what the troposphere is doing, so it’s understandable that many are not aware of these changes. Trust us, they’re happening and they’re worrisome indeed.  The canary in the coal mine is mountain snowfall and it is drastically deceasing year-on-year.

Many people are excited by the prospect of warm winter days.We are not, by any means, pleased by it. Yes, we enjoy breaks in the rain and cold, same as anyone, but when it carries on for weeks, our level of anxiety rises precipitously. Urbanites may chastise the weather every time it bestows its winter best on the Cape, but remember where your water, food and drink comes from. Without those July tempests, your grocery bill will skyrocket and taps in the summer will run dry.

What would climate change do to the local wine industry? First and foremost, summer drought reaches critical levels, thereby affecting the ability to irrigate the vines, reducing yields, causing intolerable stress to the vineyards and causing significant reduction in crop-yields. Secondly, winters become warmer, negatively impacting the ability of the vines to enter their period of dormancy. This reduces the next season’s yield and makes for an unsustainable annual growth cycle. Already, producers are struggling to get vines pruned before budding begins. Premature budding results in heightened crop damage risk, as early-Spring storm and wind events damage the delicate shoots. Thirdly, summers simply become too hot. This exacerbates evaporative losses worsening drought conditions and intensified heat-waves literally turn plump, flavourful grape berries to raisins, directly on the vines.

This all means the consumer pays more for less. Overstressed vines do not produce quality fruit which means a lower quality product in the bottle. Successive lower crop-yields and failed harvests mean one of two things: producers either go bust, or wine prices skyrocket.

All these eventualities are not yet reality, but if trends continue unabated, it will come to fruition. So what can we do? Firstly, be thankful for those irritating rainy winter days, we don’t know how long they will last. Secondly, do what you can to reduce your carbon-footprint, either through driving more efficient vehicles, using public-transit where possible, conserving energy and recycling. Thirdly, buy sustainable products; either FairTrade, IPW or Biodiversity & Wine Initiative accredited wines.

We cannot curtail climate change alone and neither can you, however, if we all do a little, we have a massive collective impact. Help us to continue to farm so you can continue to get great wines at great prices: be a buddy to the Earth.