As I briefly mentioned in a post before, there was wine made during our 8 month stay in South Africa on my parents’ farm – Harrison Hope Wine Estate. My Dad started a little venture in wine grapes 6 years ago on the farm in Eastern Cape. They said grapevines could not be grown to fruition in the Eastern Cape due to bitterly cold winters and deadly (for plants) frost. So, he planted grapevines in the Eastern Cape. They grew. Most survived the winters, a few did not. Years later, he has crates of bottles filled with the Eastern Cape’s first estate wine. And still barrels filled, waiting to be bottled. Needless to say, “they” were wrong.
One of those precious barrels is filled with HH’s 2011 Merlot. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the very wine my capable husband made. As a family, we rose one morning at 4am during harvest, and spent the next 3 hours clipping clusters of grapes from gnarly vines, warding off mosquitoes and fighting over grapes with caterpillars. We carted cratefuls of grapes ready for crushing and de-stemming, as the sun slowly rose to light the rest of our morning. As the crates came off the bakkie (truck) for weigh-in, Dad glanced up at Arron and said, “Big Guy, this one is yours.” From that moment on, the Merlot was Arron’s responsibility. He mixed chemicals, added this and added that like a witch mixing a cauldron. He woke up in the middle of the night at 3 hr intervals to “punch down” the cap, and added a little more of this and a little more of that. It was as if he had become a father, without actually having a child. After many tiring nights of this routine, the batch was ready for pressing! The juice was pressed through a manual press, and poured by hand into the expectant barrel. There it sat for months. And there it still sits. Good enough to drink, young, but good enough.
Upon that brief, unexpected visit to South Africa at the end of June to visit Dad in the hospital and encourage him back to health, we visited the farm for a mere 2 nights. During that time, I was fortunate enough to experience, yet another HH cellar tour by the old winemaker himself. I was also fortunate enough to taste my husband’s Merlot straight from the barrel. The only way I can explain it, was like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory. The first bottle, ever, from the ’11 Merlot was bottled, labeled and packaged up to be carried, by hand, to the young winemaker himself… Arron finally got to try the wine he harvested, crushed, de-stemmed, pressed and barreled. He finally got to try his wine.