A fascinating morning spent in the Paarl vineyards of Vilafonté with Dr Phil Freese, preeminent viticulturist and co-owner of the venture. 120 days from flowering to picking and each flower (which in turn become a berry) a “timer”, Freese wanting these timers to go off at the same time to ensure uniform ripeness.
Berries are merely a package to deliver the seed in an optimum condition to ensure the vine’s reproduction – methoxypyrazines and acidity serving to protect the berry from “critters” and birds until the seed is properly ripe. “Critters don’t like pyrazines and we tend to find wine writers and even wine drinkers don’t either,” says Freese.
Freese along with managing director Mike Ratcliffe also announced that the Vilafonté ownership intends to expand its 15ha of plantings by a further 3ha at a cost of R1.5 million. Consider that vineyard establishment can be done for no more than R80 000 a hectare and the premium on the Vilafonté wines makes a little more sense.