Vintage reports are the sort of thing, on the whole, that only geeks read – and even they don’t always approach the task with total enthusiasm. I don’t think I’ve ever actually gone out of my way to wholeheartedly recommend one to others. But, even though it’s quite lengthy, Craig Hawkins makes a brilliantly entertaining and interesting story of the 2014 harvest at Lammershoek – that important property in the Swartland, scene of some of the country’s most fascinating work with vineyards and the wine that comes off them.
It’s illustrated with excellent and meaningful photographs from the whole growing and picking season. The (cropped) one alongside, for example, is titled “Old Chenin Blanc before cattle”, and it comes between “before” and “after” photos, illustrating one of the “different methods of combat” used by Lammershoek to combat weeds – that eternal bugbear of organic farming. (Apart from animals, the other two methods of combat are human hands and machines, of course.)
For useful insights into organic viticulture generally, conditions of vintage 2014 in the Swartland, and the strategies of a grapegrower with his eyes ever-focused on working with rather than against nature, this report is well worth reading. It’s lucid, intelligent and good-humoured stuff and I defy anyone not to learn something useful from it. And Craig’s account of his team is fun – he tells me that “writing the one liners about the foreigners who come help” is his favourite part of writing the report.
It should also make you want to go out and find some Lammershoek wines – another thing I happily recommend.
There’s a link to the full report here.