First Quarter Protégé Report – Kiara Scott, 1st year


This report will entail a brief overview of my harvest experience at Cederberg Private Cellar.

Upon my arrival at Cederberg on the 19th of Jan, I worked in the vineyard for a few days focusing on young vine development and training, and the importance thereof. I was physically working with the workers and this was important to understand how to manage people with vineyard activities, as you cannot expect work to be done in a certain time period when you, yourself have not done it. This time in the vineyard also gave me a better understanding of time management.

Thereafter I proceeded to working in the cellar for harvest preparation which entailed mostly cleaning and familiarising myself with the equipment and general procedures of the cellar. Hygiene is very important and we try to finish all of the cleaning before the start of harvest to relieve pressure. During cleaning we started to prepare for sampling.

Before the actual processing of grapes and during that time, a lot of time was spent in the vineyard focusing on sampling and whether the grapes were not just physiologically ripe but also had the characteristics that were sought after in the respective wine later on. A lot of berry tasting was done and this was so interesting to taste that specific “green/pyrazine” characteristic in a Sauvignon Blanc berry or with Shiraz berries clearly tasting the difference between bunches inside the canopy to those on the outside.

This vintage (2015) is one of the earliest starting harvests here in Cederberg. 2014/2015 was one of the driest years in the history of the Western Cape and the Cederberg, where rain stopped very early in the previous years. Bud break and flowering was also early but had the same ripening period so this doesn’t have a negative effect on the vintage. 2015 had a very cool February and that was great for ripening as it produces very aromatic wines.

Harvesting started quite soon, with the first grapes arriving on the 26th of Jan, starting with the Chardonnay used for the Blanc de Blanc, MCC. During harvest everyone got a very specific task to be responsible for and was divided into teams. My tasks were managing of de-stemming and sorting, which entailed making sure the correct amount of grapes were being processed, that they went to the correct tank and that the tank was “ready” (cleaned, sulphured and gassed , with no leakages) the correct additions were being made and that there was always a steady flow at the tipping area.

After crushing and de-stemming the grapes were left for maceration (white varieties) and pressing followed soon after. I was responsible for both white and red pressing. Cederberg has an inert press which is new on the market and very modern, I had to familiarise myself with the inert press which was quite difficult at first, as it is not a very straight forward to operate. However, this press aids in the production of clean cut aromatic wines as it allows no oxygen into the pressing cycle at any stage. After pressing the juice was left to settle, then it was racked and yeast preparation started.

One of the most important additions to wine is the addition of yeast, and more importantly the rehydration thereof. Here, at Cederberg I’ve learnt that taking care of yeast rehydration is a crucial aspect in your fermentation. You can have the best grapes yielding to the best juice but if you rehydrate and inoculate incorrectly especially at the wrong temperature you can have a problematic fermentation or even stuck fermentations. Fermentation temperatures were also one of the crucial things that were always focused on with both white and red cultivars.

The white cultivars I’ve worked with here are Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Bukettraube and Sauvignon Blanc, the latter being the main focus. I have had exposure with working reductively especially with Sauvignon Blanc and learnt in practice the importance thereof in producing a wine of premium quality. Also, practices such as maceration with different cultivars and working with the bunch to optimise quality.

The first red cultivar processed at the cellar was Pinot noir on the 06th of Feb. I didn’t think I’d enjoy working with red grapes as much as I do now. Red winemaking requires a lot of patience, longer hours coupled with night shifts and big responsibility. The red varieties I’ve worked with here are Pinot noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

During the harvest period we received groups of people who came to see how the vilification process worked. I had to show them what I did and also had to give them tasks to do and show them how to do things. This enabled me to explain a process to them and also taught me how to have patience with people who do not know the general working of a cellar or simple things like connecting pipes.

At Cederberg I got the opportunity to make my own wine both white and red. I decided to make a Viognier and a carbonic maceration styled Shiraz. It was a nice opportunity to make both white and red (especially the red) and gives me the freedom to experiment with something I’ve never done before.

Tasks I’ve had to administer were operating of the crush and de-stemmer, operating the press (inert press and non-inert), additions, racking (white and red), pump overs, inoculations, filling and topping of barrels, paper work and BRC related traceability work. I have also started working in the tasting room and doing cellar tours. I enjoy doing this as it gives me the chance to interact with others and find out what their opinion is about our wines. Working in the tasting room also boosts confidence and gives me the opportunity to talk about wine I really believe in.