Its winter…

One of the most beautiful times of the year.

With the cold temperatures comes changes in the vineyards. Leaf colouring makes for one of the most amazing sites on the farm. Just a reminder that after such a successful harvest our vines need to go to bed and rest so that they could produce another fruitful year in 2018.   It was a dry year so far, but with each little drop of rain that finally comes, the dull dry soil and al its flora, transformed into a lushes green paradise.  One of God’s great gifts to us. With each week that passes by, every familiar scene changes, it’s like a stage production with 10 costume changes.

We have just taken off the last of our olives for the 2017 harvest. Olive trees are not the easiest crop to grow in terms of its ability to mess with one’s head like a poker player that has the best poker face in the world.  Olive trees have a condition called alternate bearing.  One year you have an amazing crop and the next there’s nothing on the trees.  2018 was one of the lower yield years, but with lower yields, comes more concentration of flavours, quality and size. So we are still very excited to be able to produce great quality extra virgin olive oils as well as table olives for our loyal customers.

After 6 months both our Grape and olive harvest seasons has come to an end and we look forward to the next 6 months. The most important next step would be Pruning. Pruning is one of the most crucial processes in crop management to ensure a successful crop the following year. So our farm workers will soon be putting their gloves on and start pruning both the vineyards and the olive trees.

We pray for more rain so that our dam levels can rise and our soil moisture levels will become sufficient for the dryer months that will follow.

But for now we could just behold the wondrous spectacle of nature doing its most dramatic, theatrical performance and just be thankful to be a part of something so magnificent.

Regards

Arno Smith

Estate Manager / Wine Maker

Harvest Update 2017

Harvest 2017

 

In the midst of the Harvest chaos I find myself sitting on my office chair for the first time in what seems forever. So I thought I would take the opportunity to update on the harvest 2017 so far.

I really do believe the Devil sits and waits somewhere on the roof of the cellar for a whole year until right before harvest starts, to cause unwanted drama.  Just to give you an example…

On one day, the following broke.
-The crusher and destemmer
-The doppies pump
-The sorting table
-The cooling unit

So basically everything I need to successfully work and make wine, but luckily I got that all sorted in time. Currently I’m without a wine pump, because guess what, that broke to!!! Luckily I have amazing neighbours who helped me out with one of their pumps. Putting all that a side, thee harvest is going great, and the grapes are looking phenomenal.  Things started out at a slow pace but with the past two weeks heat waves, the pace has rapidly increased. We started harvesting almost 2 weeks later than last year, and so far we are up on all the tonnages of each block of vineyards. We hope to achieve a record harvest.

Currently I have harvested 11 tons of Sauvignon Blanc and 4 tons of Merlot, and 2 tons of Semillon, some more Merlot will be coming in tomorrow as well. We have harvested a total of about 70 tons of Sauvignon Blanc for Durbanville Hills, and will continue picking into next week as well.

Really love this time of the year, reminds me why I decided to study vini- and viticulture.

Come and pop in for a visit, it’s an interesting and exciting time to visit the farm.

Arno Smith
Hillcrest Estate Wine Maker

The exclusive Saartjie Semillon.

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Saartjie, the Jack Russell pup that became my best mate…

It’s become somewhat of a cliché. All farmers have a little Jack Russell farming alongside them on a daily basis, but I believe that Saartjie is still an exception.

I remember the first day I met her, she was the smallest and the most cautious of all the puppies, and I instantly knew, she would become my little baby girl.

When most people hear Saartjie’s name, they always make the joke or assume her name comes from Saartjie Baartman, the most famous Khoikoi women who lived in the eighteen hundreds. But Saartjie is an old Family name. A Great aunt of mine, a fierce old lady, that also cautiously observed and assessed from a distance and then when needed to intervene or to stand her ground, she would make herself known and silence all the wrong say- or doers, just like Saartjie does.

She has become somewhat off a celebrity amongst the people in the valley as well as our loyal supporters. People visiting our restaurant even bring their dogs with to have regular playdates with the Friendly Saartjie. Don’t make a mistake, with your first visit to Hillcrest, Saartjie will come and investigate, maybe even bark three or four times, just to let you know, this is her turf.

Saartjie never leaves my side, she’s a pro Quad bike driver, and a master in picking the best grapes and even makes better wine than I can.

Saartjie even eats grapes, early in the mornings when I sample the Vineyards to establish which grapes must be harvested next, Saartjie runs by my side waiting for a grape to fall out of my hands for her to scoop it up. She always seemed to enjoy the Semillon grapes the most.

So I decided to experiment a little with making a Semillon, Semillon is mostly used in blends, most common blend is with Sauvignon Blanc. I harvested a ton of Semillon grapes and decided to ferment it in old French oak barrels, using a technique called wild fermentation, that simply means no commercial yeast is added to help with the fermentation process, it all happens naturally. After fermentation the wine was matured in French oak barrels for a further 6 months with added neutral French oak staves to insure a fuller rounder mouth feel.

To my surprise the wine came out phenomenally, with rich aromas of honey, toffee, vanilla and citrus flavors persisting on the pallet. Lingering finish.

I decided to dedicate this wine to Saartjie, so that her name will be forever remembered. With only 460 bottles made, selling at R150.00 per bottle, stock is limited, so I suggest you head to our Cellar Door and that while drinking the Saartjie Semillon, you be reminded that there is no better friend than a four legged one.

 

Arno Smith
Hillcrest Estate Wine maker

Valentine’s at Hillcrest

NOUGAT AND WINE PAIRING FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY

Valentine - Nougat & Wine

A wine and sweet treat combination not to be missed for the Month of Love, come and enjoy this taste sensation in our Cellar Door with our newly introduced Nougat and Wine Pairing.

We have paired 3 of our wines with handcrafted nougat,
Estate Sauvignon Blanc with Cranberry Nougat
Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Rose with a Rose Water Turkish Delight
Flagship Atlantic Slopes (Sauvignon Blanc) with Macadamia Nut Nougat

This exquisite tasty offer is available Mondays to Fridays 11am-4pm, Saturday and Sundays from 11am-3pm, and starts on Wednesday the 1st of February to Tuesday the 28th of February in the tasting room at R50 per person.

For more information and reservations please contact 021 970 5800 or email cellardoor@hillcrestfarm.co.za / loriane@hillcrestfarm.co.za

HILLCREST RESTAURANT

Our talented Head Chef, Debbie and her team are offering 15 couples the chance to be part of our first Food and Wine Pairing Evening in our Restaurant

Includes 5 Courses paired with wines from the Durbanville Wine Valley and a tasting voucher for 2 at Hillcrest Estate’s Cellar Door.

The 5 Courses

  • Fresh west coast oyster with Tangy fruit salsa
  • Potted shrimp with French wafers and radish pickle
  • Beetroot Carpaccio with watermelon, goat’s feta and mint
  • Confit Pork belly, Apple cider sauce, carrot puree and baby Hassel back potatoes
  • White chocolate Pannacotta with strawberry paint, champagne jellies and basil infused lime gel

Cost: R300 per person

Bookings: contact Debbie on 021 975 2346 or email restaurant@hillcrestfarm.co.za

THE QUARRY

A romantic picnic under the stars in the spectacular Hillcrest Quarry.

A sultry singer and her golden voice, a classical violinist, a ukulele player, amongst others, are teaming up with Borderline to get you swaying and swooning under the stars. Soon, you might be in mood for love…

Gates open 18:00 – bring your picnic baskets (NO beverages), blankets and camp chairs, and get cozy! Cash bar will be open and food will be on sale if packing a picnic isn’t your thing

Cost: R80 Single Entry, R140 per Couple

Bookings: Contact 021 976 4959

 

Update from the Wine Maker

Arno 1

Arno & Saartjie

Summer must be my favourite time of the year. Not because off the weather or the holiday vibe in the air, but for one reason only, Grape harvest season is upon us. One of God’s spectacles takes place from September until March here on the farm, when our vineyards start budding after sleeping in the winter and all that seemed dead starts bursting with life, one could not help but feel the excitement for the new harvest to come.

So far 2017, shows so much promise and we are so thankful that our vineyards are looking extra healthy with a beautiful crop sitting and waiting for us to decide when it’s time to start harvesting. The positive energy we’re experiencing from our farm workers are contagious and they are just as excited to see the fruits of their hard labour. We foresee a very dry year, but that is not always a bad thing. Yes, off course we need water, but with a dry year comes a disease free year. Since I have been working on the farm, I have never seen the vines so healthy.

Our estimate harvest date is the first week of February. Starting with delicious Sauvignon Blanc, then moving to the Merlot and then finishing with the Bordeaux cultivars.

We all know that the vineyards are the most important part to make great quality wine, but it is essential that one’s Cellar should be prepped properly before the first grapes arrive at the cellar. So we are in full cleaning mode and servicing all our equipment to make sure everything runs like a well old machine as soon as harvest starts.

I really can’t wait to start smelling the fermenting juices, for the whole valley to fill up with the aromas that harvest and winemaking brings and as soon as the grapes arrive at the cellar, start sculpting on a possible masterpiece. May 2017 be a year to remember, with great wines and great memories. I wish my fellow winemaker friends a prosperous vintage…

Arno Smith
Hillcrest Estate Wine Maker