Voyager Estate
11 July 2024 | Voyager Estate


The 2024 vintage saw the return of a much-loved staff training initiative: the Team Winemaking Project. Over the last year, the Cellar Door team have nurtured four rows of heritage Grenache vines, originally planted in 1978, through every stage of the winemaking process – from pruning to bottling.

The journey began with enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge. With guidance from Chief Winemaker, Tim Shand, our team immersed themselves in every aspect of viticulture and winemaking. This project provided an invaluable opportunity to translate their theoretical knowledge into practical skills while also enjoying the beauty of working outdoors.

The first task was pruning the vines over a couple of cool, sunny winter mornings. The team watched a professional pruning video first to learn the perfect technique, but among the vines, reality set in as they navigated the gnarly trunks out in the field. Despite the challenges, they forged ahead, perhaps with a few too many buds left behind. All part of the learning curve!

Throughout the growing season, the team regularly visited the block, monitoring and completing the manual tasks the vines needed. They extensively shoot-thinned to ensure even distribution of canes and fruit, lifted wires, plucked excess leaves, and removed lateral shoots. In mid-January, about 30% of the bunches were dropped as they went through veraison, allowing the remaining fruit to develop better flavour and ripeness.

As harvest time approached, ripeness was tested. The team carefully harvested a representative selection of the precious bunches. They then took the grapes to the winery, where they destemmed, hand-crushed, and began the fermentation process. After several weeks of testing and tasting, the grapes were finally picked before the rains came.

Following the harvest, the Grenache was processed, retaining whole bunches. The team foot-stomped, tested every few days as the wine fermented, and eventually basket-pressed the fruit. The wine was then racked to a concrete egg for a couple of months before bottling, capping, and labelling with striking artwork designed by team member and emerging artist, Rebeca Vonk Marins.

Many thanks are owed to Chief Winemaker, Tim Shand, for guiding the team from the very beginning, and to the Vineyard and Winery crew for their assistance throughout the project. The team gained a wealth of knowledge through the process, both in the vineyard, learning about the many tasks required to ensure the grapes reached ripeness and were harvested in pristine condition, and also in the winery, learning about the intricacies of whole bunch fermentation. The best part of course, was taking home their hand-crafted magnum of Grenache at the end – one of only 35 produced – a delicious and exclusive memento for all their hard work!

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