Like most aspects of life, there are pro’s and cons to the farming of wine-grapes in the far-flung Orange River region. We’d like to believe that the pro’s outweigh the cons. Our region is unlike any other wine area in the world: a spectacular wilderness area with fertile soils having access to the live-giving waters of the great Orange River. Sun-filled days conducive to optimum ripening of fruit, and cool nights to ensure the vines get their required rest. Clean, open spaces full of fresh air see that our vines remain disease free.

What differentiates the Orange River wine region from the more traditional wine region of the Western Cape is the fact that this is a summer rainfall area. This poses a different set of challenges, but our grape producers have learnt to stand-up to this challenge and our winemakers have achieved wonders by making quality wines even during floods, such as was the case in 2011.

This year nature once again posed a pronounced challenge by bringing an unexpected spell of cold weather during spring which resulted in major frost damage to the areas vines. The table grape and raisin farmers suffered huge losses. But fortunately the wine grape varieties were just starting out on their growth cycle so a disaster was averted. Still, predictions are that the Orange River Cellars harvest will be between 15% and 20% lower than average due to frost damage.

On the positive side, our bulk and bottled wine production will be on track and deliver wines of exceptional quality, as the cool late winter has given the vines ample time to rest and rejuvenate. Good quality is expected, despite a lower yield in some varieties. As they say – what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabout!

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