BETWEEN THE VINES

While Pinotage is also grown in Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Switzerland, Germany, US and Israel, to name just a few, its birthplace remains South Africa. This makes this local varietal a unique and valuable instrument in the marketing of South Africa’s wines in general.

Pinotage has the inherent adaptability and capacity to produce high grape yields under ideal cultivation conditions. Since there is now a considerable bank of knowledge about how to grow Pinotage vines successfully, the Pinotage producer is in the fortunate position that he has various options when having to decide on alternate cultivation practices and yield control measures that will ensure an optimal crop.

It is often said that the quality of the wine is determined in the vineyard. With these guidelines the Pinotage Association would like to make grape growers aware of the total series of factors that have to be taken into consideration to cultivate Pinotage grapes with the right characteristics that are required for the production of quality Pinotage wines.

General cultivation characteristics

Soil
Deeper soils with good water retention

Budding
Early mid-season, from early September after Chardonnay and before or together with Merlot

Flowering
From end October until early November

Veriason
From end December until early January

Ripening
Early mid-season, from end January to early March. Bud burst to harvesting takes approximately 160 – 180 days. The ripening of grapes on virus-infected vines takes approximately 10 to 21 days longer, i.e. from end February until middle March.

Vigour
Moderate to ideal

Yield
Moderate

Growth
Moderate

Disease resistance
Moderately susceptible to powdery mildew, downy mildew and Botrytis cinerea

Plant material

  • Pl 45, certified in 1981 (SFW)
  • Pl 48, certified in 1966 (Slaley selection)
  • Pl 50, certified in 1976 (Meerendal selection)

Choice of rootstock

  • As far as is known, Pinotage has no affinity problems with any of the well-known rootstock varieties. The choice of rootstock variety will therefore mainly be dependent on the soil type and the availability of water. Rootstock varieties that induce moderate balanced vigour under supplementary irrigation or dry land conditions should enjoy preference.
  • Rootstock varieties that induce lush growth, e.g. Ramsey, should be avoided.
  • Under dry land conditions preference should be given to R99, R110, Paulsen 1103, 8-7USVIT and 140 Ruggeri. Under supplementary irrigation conditions rootstock varieties such as R110, 101-14Mgt and 8-7USVIT can be considered.