Waterford Estate’s 2023 wine harvest:
A promising year for top-quality Wines
By Jeremy Maarschalk
Thursday - 1 June 2023
It was only a short time ago when the Winelands breathed a sigh of relief as the intensity of the
harvest season drew to a close. As the autumn leaves fall and the temperatures begin to drop,
winemakers and viticulturists can take a deep breath and rest, knowing they have successfully
completed another year of hard work and dedication.
The dedication of the industries finest is an essential ingredient in crafting the quality wines we
enjoy drinking. The harvest is the culmination of hard work, experience and passion that is so
immensely critical in crafting wine of elegance.
With the wine resting in the barrels it is the perfect time to pick the brains of our cellar team and
get a feel for the quality of this year’s vintage.
Waterford Estate’s cellarmaster and COO, Mark le Roux says the quality of the wine is looking
superb. ‘The wines have settled after the fermentation and the characteristics of the wine have
been exposed. The reds have spent some time in barrel now and are starting to show a little bit
of character and along with the quality of the fruit that came into the cellar this is sure to be a
The growing season began strong with superb growing conditions but every season has its
challenges, this season ended with some uncharacteristic rainfall during the picking season.
This should have affected our Cabernet Sauvignon but the strength of the blocks and the vines
are shining through and the quality is without doubt.
Mark confirmed the vineyard's strength by stating, ‘The vineyard is 25 years old now and has a
deep root system that lessens the effect of inclement weather. The rain, wind and cold near the
end of the season slowed the growth down a bit near the picking of the late varietals but with the
heavier winds we experienced the risk of mold was alleviated thus leaving our vineyard clean
The fermentation process is what makes wine, wine. It is an integral step in the winemaking
process and is something that the winemakers focus on intensely as it could make or break their
product. This year due to the cooler season Waterford Estate chose to control the ferments to
run a little slower than usual. Mark said this was done to ensure we extracted the right amount
of colour, structure and tannin in our wines while maintaining a good level of alcohol.
These actions need to be carefully monitored and it takes a dedicated team to ensure that all of
the ferments go off without any issue. Assistant winemaker, Jamie Papenfus reflects on the
cellar teams’ performance saying that “the whole team, permanent staff and interns, really
worked well together and had a good time, we worked hard and we played hard.”
Like fermentation, the selection of barrels for the red wines is an integral step in the winemaking
process. Here at Waterford Estate we always tend to lean a little lighter on oaking our reds - it's
our naturalistic ethos in winemaking.
This barrel selection process starts by looking at the season, the earlier picking varietals
experienced warmer weather thus creating wines with more intensity in fruit, therefore we chose
to use a slightly higher amount of new oak on that batch to allow the wines to properly integrate
with the oak character.
The later harvesting reds spent more time on the vines thus leading to wines showing more
structure and austerity therefore less new wood was used on this batch to ensure that the wine
doesn't become too intense and that the wine still shows the fruit and terroir that our drinkers
are so accustomed to. Jamie says that the standout varietal in her eyes is the Cabernet
Sauvignon, despite the late rain in the harvest season it held itself up nicely and produced really
All and all the harvest season was a success here at Waterford Estate, the cellar team was
great this year, through sickness they were here and they showed a lot of toughness during this
grueling season. The team however pushed through and grafted hard which was great.
“The interns were quick learners and jumped at the opportunity to help. I'm sure they both will
excel in their careers ahead of them. All and all the team had a great personality this year which
made opening some amazing bottles of wine after harvest worthwhile,’ says Mark.
We congratulate the winemaking and viticultural teams of the Cape Winelands, cheers to
another successful vintage!
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