Tour Locations | Cellar Audio Guide: From Berry to Barrel to Bottle
LOCATION 10 | Cellar Audio Guide: From Berry to Barrel to Bottle
10. The Rhythm of the Cellar
NARRATOR: A lot of what happens in the cellar is dictated by what happens in the vineyards outside, and Groot Constantia’s rhythms follow the steady progress of the seasons here. For Floricious, it all begins in spring.
FLORICIOUS : So, early spring, maybe the second week in September, you will see the little green buds…Now your growing season really starts.
NARRATOR: Tiny white flowers appear on the vines next. Strong winds or heavy rain can do a lot of damage to them at this point.
FLORICIOUS : We are actually in the hands of nature.
NARRATOR: Fruit set takes place in early summer, when the flowers start to develop a seed with a berry around it, to protect the seed.
FLORICIOUS : After the flowering time, the fruits will start forming, and it’ll be as big as the head of a match. By the end of January, your plant will stop growing. The development of the fruit will carry on. Your acids will start dropping, but your sugar will actually start increasing. When things are close, we will take some samples back to the laboratory… It’s Boela’s decision when we’re going to harvest.
NARRATOR: But Boela draws on the collective experience of both Floricious and Jean.
Boela: You’re looking at 35 to 40 years between Flo and Jean and myself… here in the Constantia Valley. So you good feel of where you’re going to when you walk through the vineyard.
NARRATOR: Harvest time is Jean’s favourite time on the estate.
Jean: I think harvest time is the most rewarding time and the most relaxing time because all that risk of carrying that little bunch all the way through the production process into the cellar… It’s sort of a relief the moment it lands in the cellar because then you have far more control over the process than while it’s hanging out there.
NARRATOR: After the harvest, the cellar is a hive of activity. Boela and his team are hard at work. The machines hum. The pipes gurgle, if anybody can hear them over the din. Oak barrels are moved around the cellar and filled up carefully, to make sure that every wine gets exactly the right amount of oak.
By the time winter starts, most of this is done, and preparation for the new harvest begins. Floricious is back out in the vineyard, where his team cuts away all the dead wood. When summer comes again, some of last year’s harvest is already on tables, livening up dinner parties. The reds might spend a few more months on oak before being tucked away in cellars across the world, waiting until they are perfectly aged.
Let’s carry on a little further down the walkway, to location eleven.