As an Englishman coming to a new country to make wine, one is aware that the climate must be suited not just to the grapes but also to you, your family and of course, to your lifestyle. So it’s with excitement and some trepidation that you arrive in a beautiful country such as South Africa.
My first home was in the furnace of Wellington, or Hellington as it is sometimes called, where temperatures happily reach 45°C. Apparently it has even reached 52°C! My next home was in Stellenbosch, where I enjoyed firstly the warmth of the northern area where Mulderbosch is situated, and then at Kanu, in southern Stellenbosch where you get all those lovely sea breezes that are devotingly spoken about on the label. Still, there are days when the temperatures reach 40°C – although perhaps not as often.
My next move was to my current location in Elgin - here temperatures very rarely go above 35°C and generally one wakes up to an agreeably cool day, occasionally swirling in sea-bourne mists. The prevailing southeaster, known as the Cape Doctor, blows throughout summer creating windy yet warm days in Stellenbosch and Paarl. However, by virtue of the mountian peaks it forms a cloud cover of Elgin, as it does the famous ‘table cloth’ over Table Mointain. On exceptionally windy days this brings summer rain to Elgin, known locally as a black south easter, and cooler temperatures, unusual as most rain fronts hail from Northwest.
On a typical day in February, the hottest month of the year, we have cool nights with temperatures dipping to 14°C, a morning of 16°C and a beautiful clear day peaking at about 23°C. The grapes simply love it, but I wait in trepidation as to see what my family thinks once they move here…