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Swartland Covid Chronicles

I don’t know about you, but I am itching to get out there and travel again. It has been almost 3 months since the national lockdown started and, like you, we have adhered to all the new restrictions and protocols. It is after all the right and safe thing to do.

To that end our latest blog is featured directly below this message, to entice you to visit the Swartland once lockdown has lifted. Be assured that our wineries and olive producers will have all the required health and safety protocols in place. We are ready to welcome you back one of these days!

In the meantime a number of our producers have upped their online presence and have launched new websites to make your virtual experience more pleasurable and convenient.

Hang in there and keep your inner circle small, until we can travel again. Stay safe.

Plan your return to the Riebeek Valley with this handy guide

Coming this way, everyone in the car was silent as if overcome at the change of scenery from that which it had been in our respective cases, for seemingly endless weeks. Then, Johan said to no-one in particular, “I’ve taken so many pictures of that wind pump”. The lollypop structure in an open field whizzed by, “With wheat, with rainbows…” his voice trailed off.

This short trip was conceived as a re-discovery and we were champing at the bit to the return to the Riebeek Valley.

We pass the turnoff to Riebeeksrivier and briefly re-visit the happy memory of stoep-sipping a G&T at the home of Relihan Gin. That’s of course the way to the Mullineux & Leeu wine brand’s Swartland farm, Roundstone, too.


Riebeek Cellars collection delivered straight to your door

This year has certainly been a rollercoaster. To help make life a little easier and safer, the Riebeek Valley Wine Co is now delivering your favourite wine and olive oil straight to your door at cellar door prices. Their latest 2020 vintages, Sauvignon Blanc 2020 & Pinotage Rosé 2020, are now available while their range of luxurious reds is the perfect companion to help fight off those winter chills.

Missed the Olive Festival? No worries, they also deliver their very own 2020 vintage Extra Virgin Olive Oil available for you to savour over salads and greens or to make your favourite dishes richer and more delicious. It's also filled with a serious dose of health boosting anti-oxidants!

To place an order, give them a call on 022 448 1213, or send an email to wine@riebeekcellarscollection.com

Kalmoesfontein - Home of AA Badenhorst
By Helena Sheridan (the cousin who does the marketing & web stuff)

Kalmoesfontein might be best known as the home of AA Badenhorst Family Wines’ diverse range of liquor, but we just launched a new website focussing on the farm as a venue, location and accommodation getaway so today we’re talking werf.

When Adi and his cousin Hein bought the property in 2008 the cellar was a makeshift mechanic workshop; the old house close to a ruin and the main residence (very!) far from the beacon of style that Cornelia would inevitably whip it into. Over the past 12 years a tremendous amount of well thought out work has gone into the property. Renovations and elevations, clearing and curating, planting and painting – all ongoing themes on this farm.

Read More

Schenkfontein – The glass is always half full
Reflections in the times of COVID by Alicia Hanekom

I’m on my way back from our local town where I had to buy much needed supplies for home. It takes a while before the electronic gate opens and in that moment I breathe. Something inside me just lets go. Maybe it’s all the stress of shopping with the annoying mask and the constant hand sanitizing. Maybe it is the crisp weather of fall or just our invigorating mountain air. Inhale, exhale. I breathe because I feel relieved, I feel safe. Secure. Two things greet me as I drive through the gate, the burgundy like foliage of the vineyard, the unnatural blue color of the mountain, for there is rain coming for sure, and of course the indispensable tawny orange leaves of the tree in front of our house in the distance.

Read more

New online shop for Mullineux & Leeu Family

You can now order your favourite wine from the Mullineux family online. The Mullineux range consists of a Chenin Blend, a Syrah and a Chenin Dessert wine. The Kloof Street range is made with the same attention to detail but are a more accessible style. In exceptional vintages they also produce an ultra-premium range or terroir-specific wines based on Chenin Blanc and Syrah. These wines are made in small quantities from parcels of vines that give the best expression of terroir.

For more information or to order your favourite click here: https://mlfwines.com/shop/

Allesverloren launch an inhouse online wine shop

Allesverloren Wine Estate will launch a brand spanking new online wine shop on the 1st of July 2020. Keep a look-out for the big announcement on their social media platforms or visit their website http://www.allesverloren.co.za/.

Their tasting room is currently open for wine sales from Monday to Thursday 09:00 to 17:00, in line with the level 3 national lock down regulations. Send an e-mail to info@allesverloren.co.za or give them a call on 022 461 2320 to find out more.

New wine releases: Kloovenburg

The historical farm Kloovenburg, at the foot of the Kasteelberg Mountain in Riebeek Kasteel, needs no introduction. Their recent wine releases include a medium-bodied Grenache Noir 2019 with aromas of dark cherries, pomegranate and dried herbs. A fresh Sauvignon Blanc 2020 with tropical fruit, gooseberry and hints of asparagus as well as a medium to full bodied Merlot 2017 with sweet berry, fruitcake and black fruit flavours with a hint of spice.

Orders can be placed via their website http://www.kloovenburg.com

Climate and agricultural conditions No 42 – June 2020
Johan van den Berg, Independent Agricultural Meteorologist (M.Sc Agric, Agricultural meteorology, UFS)

Important Issues:
• Rainfall conditions for the Western Cape in the last few weeks are more favourable than expected.
• La Nina development and Negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) in coming months are positive for summer rainfall.

1. Current conditions

Better than expected rainfall occurred over most parts of the Western Cape and south western parts of the Northern Cape since the end of May 2020. There were also significant falls of rain in the Eastern Cape, large parts of KZN and the central tot northern interior of the country. Very important is that the drought-stricken areas of the western parts of the Northern Cape and adjacent parts of the Western Cape received significant falls. Springbok in the Northern Cape received more than 40mm, Garies more than 30mm, Nieuwoudtville more than 60mm and Calvinia more than 25mm. Other parts of the Western Cape that received significant falls were Ceres with more than 100mm, Paarl and Wellington with well over 60mm with parts of the Swartland (Malmesbury) also more than 50mm. Rain was also recorded in the drought stricken Eastern Cape with significant falls that were received in districts like Joubertinia and Port Elizabeth. In the period of 12 to 15 June, rainfall amounts of more than 20mm were measured in the Northwest Province, Mpumalanga and KZN.

Extreme low temperatures were recorded during the night of 13 June with minimum temperatures below of close to -10°C in many areas like Standerton, Warden, Douglas, Koppies and Bloemfontein. Compared to the minimum temperatures in the recent past two decades is it from the lowest temperatures measured in the month of June. Extreme cold events are usually more frequent in July.

The better than expected rainfall conditions for the Western and Eastern Cape, the extremely cold June and the significant rainfall event in the northern interior may be an indication of a step change in the climate and outlooks for the next 3 to 5 years.

Surface water is in general in a favourable state except for dams in the Eastern Cape like the Kougadam supplying water to the Nelson Madela Metro with only 7.8% of full capacity compared to the 44.3% last year the same time. Another source of concern is the Vaaldam with only 46.5% currently compared to the 68.5% last year the same time. Positive is that the Clanwilliam dam in the Western Cape started to recover with good falls of rain in the past weeks and is now at just below 20% compared to the about 6% a few weeks ago. The Theewaterskloofdam that is the largest storage dam in the Western Cape is currently at about 55% compared to 41.1% last year the same time.

The two most important dams in Lesotho, Katse and Mohale dams are currently about 35.3% and 11.4% of full capacity compared to the 30.1% and 33.4% last year the same time, respectively.

2. ENSO and Indian Ocean

2.1 ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation)

There was a total of five El Nino and four La Nina events since the 2009/10 season. El Nino events were 2009/10, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2018/19 and 2019/20 with 2009/10 and 2015/16 very strong events. The 2019/20 El Nino was a very weak event while 2014/15 and 2018/19 that were moderate. Only one of the four La Nina events (2010/11) can be classified as a strong La Nina event with the other three events weak to moderate.

The current status of ENSO is neutral with sea surface temperatures of all four Nino-areas in the neutral range or borderline La Nina. There was a cooling of between 0.5°C and 1°C since the middle of May 2020 in most of the Nino-areas. The Southern Oscillation Index or SOI that is a measure of the coupling of sea surface conditions with over lying climate systems, is however also neutral but still more towards El Nino (negative SOI).

Forecasts: Most forecasts are opting for a weak to moderate La Nina event from about July 2020 to at least March 2021. Cooling of waters in deeper layers of the tropical Pacific is also supporting a La Nina development to occur.

2.2 Indian Ocean

The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is currently also in a neutral state. Most international models are forecasting a negative phase of the IOD to develop in coming months to become a moderate negative IOD event. A negative event is indicative of cooler waters towards the western Indian Ocean (closer to the African coastline) and warmer towards the eastern Indian Ocean (northern Australia). This decreases the risk of tropical cyclones and strong cyclonic depressions in summer and prevents the disturbance of normal rainfall patterns.

3. Rainfall and Climate expectations

3.1 Summer Rainfall Area

Short to medium term forecasts are not favourable for significant rainfall for the rest of the winter and spring. If the IOD or Indian Ocean Dipole develops rapidly towards a negative phase can it increase the probability for rain in spring and early summer. The rainfall event in the second week of June over the northern and north eastern interior can however be indicative of an earlier start of the summer rainfall season in the eastern parts of the Summer Rainfall Region.

Of significance for the mid to late summer is the forecast of La Nina conditions combined with a negative IOD phase. This combination in history was responsible for average to above average rainfall conditions in the first part of summer (November and December) over the eastern areas (KZN, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Eastern Free State and south eastern parts of Limpopo) tapering off towards February and March with drier conditions. The band of rainfall then shifts towards the west becoming wet to very wet from about the December/January to March.

Although it is still very early in the season for accurate forecasts, are there for the first time in the near past recent years strong indicators for this time of the year.

Temperatures, especially minimum temperatures are expected to remain cold until about the first part of August before warming up.

3.2 Winter Rainfall Area

It is interesting that actual rainfall recorded since the last week of May 2020 was better than forecasts initially indicated. It is also significant that rain also occurred in the drought stricken West Coast and adjacent interior of the Western and Northern Cape.

Above average rainfall occurred in districts like Ceres, Paarl, Nieuwoudtville and Springbok. Less rain occurred over the Southern Cape compared to the Swartland and north along the Westcoast.

Short to medium term outlooks for the Swartland and surroundings are still positive for rain until at least the middle of August with regular at least light falls. It seems however that the probabilities are more favourable for the Rûens and South coast areas later in the winter and spring compared to the south western areas like the Swartland. This is the “normal” trend of the South African rainfall patterns starting in winter towards the south western areas and West Coast, moving gradually eastwards and northwards later in the winter and spring to start the summer rainfall in about September/October over the north eastern parts of the country and then move inland in mid and late summer.

3.3 Namibia

Very little rain is expected for most of the country until at least October. It is very likely that rainfall conditions will improve dramatically from about November to reach a peak in January to March. Above average rainfall is expected for most of the country for the 2020/21 summer season.

Lower temperatures with frost can still be expected until at least the last part of July.

4. Summary and conclusion

• Production conditions improved over large parts of the Western Cape.
• Both ENSO and Indian Ocean (IOD) are most probably heading for favourable rainfall conditions for the summer of 2020/21, especially the central to western parts of the Summer Rainfall Area.

5. Disclaimer: The author or Santam or any other parties mentioned in this document do not warrant the accuracy, completeness or reliability of any information in this document. Any actions or decisions based on the information in this document is strictly at your own risk and we will not be liable for any losses or damages in connection with the use of information stated in this document.

Jolene Janse van Rensburg.
Wine Route Manager

Swartland Wine & Olive Route
Tel: 022 487 1133
Telefax: 022 487 2063
Fax2email: 086 211 0121

Proudly sponsored by Santam Agriculture