The impact of grape berry ripeness level on berry and wine composition & potential wine style of Pinotage

by | Jun 28, 2018 | South Africa Wine Scan

By Etienne Terblanche

Current Winetech funded project: The realities of changes in consumer trends and the pressure on winemakers to create a wine that is appealing and unique, yet typical of the variety, necessitate a profound knowledge of the variety and its interaction with the biotic and abiotic environment.

In comparison to many other widely cultivated “international” varieties, limited information is available to producers regarding the relationship between the berry ripening stage and wine quality of South African variety: Pinotage. Ripening stage is known to change wine phenolic content, colour, volatile composition and sensory profile. Yet the extent- and impact of these changes on wine qualitative and sensory properties specifically for Pinotage are still very broadly defined and lacks varietal specific information. The current study proposes a detailed characterisation of vineyard status in parallel to the tracking of wine composition over a range of ripening stages. This will provide a basis from which a more informed harvest decision can be made, bearing in mind different potential wine styles. This is specifically relevant due to a characteristically short harvest window (low margin for error), as a result of rapid sugar accumulation associated with Pinotage. Consequently, along with the realities of future warmer and drier, more extreme conditions, the understanding of Pinotage ripening dynamics will become paramount in order to continue to produce high quality, uniquely South African wines.


Data obtained of wine chemical and sensorial properties will be related to a dynamic description of the plant-environment  continuum   and   grape   berry development in order to obtain accurate information regarding relationships between leaf (source)  and  grape  (sink)  seasonal  metabolic changes. In this way, reference data is created that would form the basis of future practical parameters that may enable producers to judge and manipulate optimal grape and wine quality associated with a particular style.

Researcher: Etienne Terblanche

Project is also funded by the Pinotage Association

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