Celebrating the 2020 Harvest at Leeu Estates

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines Celebrate the Harvest Season: With an estimated harvest of approximately five tons of grapes per hectare, amounting to about 1.5 kilograms per vine, the Mullineuxs are highly expectant for the 2020 harvest.

As the beginning of the year sees in a new harvest season, the Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines team can barely contain their excitement to reap what they’ve sown a year ago. In the last week of January Chris and Andrea Mullineux officially lead their team into the 2020 harvest.

November 2019 saw the first preparations for this harvest. “We bottle the previous vintage to make space in the cellar and barrels for the coming season’s harvest,” says Chris. “We try to be done bottling by Christmas and then start cleaning the cellar for the coming vintage.”

Despite the effects of the 2018 drought still showing last year, the Mullineuxs celebrated their 12th vintage – quite a remarkable milestone considering the timeframe in which they have achieved this. “The 2019 vintage was great – small yields due to the continuing dry conditions in the Cape, but this meant smaller berries which are fantastic for making wines with a lovely natural intensity,” says Chris.

According to wine.co.za, the 2019 wine grape crop of South Africa was estimated at 1 225 620 tonnes and, although only 1.4% smaller than the year before, the crop had shrunk for the second consecutive year.

“We are definitely still feeling the aftermath of the drought,” says Chris. “Although the dams for drinking water in the Cape are in a much better position than a few years ago, the ground water levels are still really low, and this means vines can only ripen a smaller crop.

“Crop levels and quality are not always directly related though,” he adds. “Often when the crop levels are lower the quality is better due to the smaller, more intensely flavoured grapes.”

Endeavouring to be as natural and organic as possible in their approach to farming in all their vineyards, the Mullineuxs aim to bottle wines that are a true expression of the vineyards they grow in. This shows in their harvesting methods in that the they make the wines with as little intervention as possible.

“In the cellar we make no chemical additions other than a minimal amount of sulphur (well below the organic limits). Even the yeast that ferment the wine are natural yeast that come from the vineyards,” says Chris. “Absolutely everything is done by hand in the vineyard and cellar, and yes, we [even] foot stomp some of the batches of wine.”

For the Mullineuxs, the 2020 harvest will be celebrated by spending time with family over Easter. “While we get the kids to come help [out] in the cellar over weekends, we don’t see our family as much as we’d like to this time of the year,” says Chris.

“We are pretty excited for the coming harvest,” says Chris. “Climate change seems to be bringing drier conditions to our vineyards and we have been adapting our farming to help the vines cope with the new conditions. This includes making all our own composts and using cover crops and mulch to build the health and life in our soils.

“All this work really seems to be paying off and the vines look super happy and healthy.”

The Mullineuxs will harvest approximately five tons of grapes per hectare, amounting to about 1.5 kilograms per vine. In total, they will harvest about 250 tons between both their Leeu Passant cellar in Franschhoek and Mullineux cellar in the Swartland.

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