Reflections on 2019 in the Vineyard, Cellar and Beyond


    Human, not corporate, independent wines.


    Short reads

    • Reflection on 2019 In The Vineyard, Cellar and Beyond
    • Award Season Begins
    • Thoughts on Thanksgiving and Holiday meals

    Reflections on 2019 in the Vineyard, Cellar and Beyond

    As the end of 2019 comes into sight, we are looking back on what has been a year of rewarding hard work. Over 90% of the US wine market is dominated by the top four distributors who subsequently ‘push’ a few select large production brands owned by the giant firms (that often go to great length to hide their ownership of these brands). That’s the reason why you see pretty much the same wines in most places. Small, family owned wine houses like ours, have to work hard to get placements, often convincing restaurateurs to push back on these giant conglomerates – a real David and Goliath story. For us, that means working hard to produce top quality wines that are true to our values: searching individual vineyards that have the optimal soil and climates with farmers who nurture them, and then working in the cellar with minimal intervention and natural techniques to create amazing wines. We appreciate the ongoing support from independent restaurateurs and clubs who have showcased our wines and the independent wine stores who give an outlet to passionate wine houses like ours. We derive the greatest pleasure from our consumers, who have complimented our wines, taken them to their hearts and shared them on special occasions with friends and family. Wine making is one of the few endeavors in today’s modern world where being independent and small allows greater focus on quality as well as the consumer, and we intend to keep that focus.


    In the vineyard, the severe drought of 2017 that produced intense, though low yielding grapes and wines, severely stressed the vineyards. This resulted in lower yields in 2018 despite sufficient rainfall as the vines will take time to recover. This trend continued into 2019. There were sporadic heatwaves early in the 2019 vintage with marked rainfall variation, even within the same viticultural area. In broad terms, areas on  mountain slopes had average rainfall whereas the valley had dry conditions. Our vineyards fared well as we were lucky (or good) in both 2019 and 2018, though there was upwards pricing pressure due to the lower yields. We continued expanding our expeditions in search of great vineyards (see Instagram post here and here) and welcomed new egg shaped fermenters (see Instagram post here) for the upcoming Sauvignon Blanc. Lastly, we celebrated along with a rugby mad South Africa, winning the Rugby World Cup which was held in Japan (see Instagram post here and here).

    As the year draws to a close, we are selling out of our Select Vineyards Reserve White. This decorated wine has won numerous awards, in the US, UK and South Africa, the highlight being garnering 95 points in the annual review of Master of Wine Tim Atkin on release. It is a South African blend of Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc and smaller quantities of Roussanne and Verdelho that is barrel fermented and aged. Like most such South African whites, it is built for aging and will improve for about 5-7 years. We could not make this blend the following vintage due to the drought and the next iteration of the Reserve White will be a Chenin Blanc. So do stock up on this exceptional wine while you still can: the last few bottles along with our entire range is available through our web site with free shipping on 6 bottles or more (including mixed cases) and the added pleasure of supporting an independent passionate winery.



    Award Season begins

    The annual Platter Diners Club review is the most prestigious wine publication in South Africa. Much like many of our great wines, it is not widely known outside of South Africa. This magnum opus tastes the majority of the newly released South Africa’s wines and also serves as the Wikipedia of the South African wine industry (I had to think of the correct term here as both encyclopedia and phone book are terms no longer in common parlance).  Again, our wines scored highly: our forthcoming Chenin blanc scored 91 points and our Constance Dessert Wine scored 90 points (our Sauvignon Blanc had not been bottled at the time of submission).



    Thoughts on Thanksgiving and Holiday meals

    Thanksgiving is first and foremost a food, not a wine, holiday. The Thanksgiving meal is more of a spread than a set tasting menu, so it makes much more sense to pair your wine to the amalgamation of textures and flavors that will co-inhabit your plate. Food and Wine Magazine recommends South African oaked Chenin Blanc based wines, like the Safriel House Select Vineyards as it “has the heft to stand up to rich dishes, but it won’t overpower the flavors of milder meats and sides”. If you want something more traditional, the Safriel House Chardonnay 2016 works well as The Behind The Bar blog describes food friendly chardonnay needing to be “really well made and really well balanced".

    Of course, our Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from the outstanding 2017 vintage, with its fruity and balanced oaky notes, is very well suited to the roasted red meats of December’s holidays.



    Talking and Listening To You

    We always love to hear back from you. Let us know where and when you have enjoyed our wines or post them on Instagram or Facebook and tag us @safrielhouse or #safrielhouse.



    All the best,

    Lynne and Yair


    Back to blog

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.