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The national disposition seems to have transformed overnight. Is it because of the ongoing soap opera taking place within South African rugby or the pending national services industry strike? Or is it because we haven’t yet experienced the three-weekly scheduled petrol price hike – and we know it’s only a matter of egos? No? Then what could possibly be causing all the fervour?

Well, if you’re waking up for work at the normal time and having to mentally prepare yourself for fifteen minutes before even thinking of peaking your toes out from under the covers then you’ll know exactly what it is…the weather! Yes, folks! Pull out those woolie jumpers and banish those bikinis to the back of the wardrobe – winter has arrived!

Now, some may argue that privileged South Africans tend to be a little over-dramatic. After all, it’s not like it’s -21 degrees Celsius (-65 if you take into account the wind chill factor!) as our poor cousins over in Canada have to endure – for nine months of the year! And, wasn’t it only last week that we were basking in the last lovely rays of the summer sun on one of the many public holidays, sipping on a newly released 2007 Leopard’s Leap Chenin Blanc?

One person who’s embracing the cold is Leopard’s Leap award-winning winemaker, Eugene van Zyl. According to him, conditions couldn’t be any more perfect for the vineyards. Essentially, cooler weather gives the vines a chance to rest after months of hard work producing exquisite grapes. A significant break should lead to even budding and a good yield in the new season, while good rainfall is essential for the growth of cover crops which ultimately create the mulsh, an essential ingredient to promote suitable texture, moisture and oxygenation in the soil.

If global warming doesn’t threaten the traditional Cape winter weather and conditions continue as they are, then we’re one step closer to a bumper crop next season. So in the meantime, bundle up and batter down the hatches, fans, this is only the beginning. But it’s sure going to be worth it in the end!

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