Harvest Diaries image

Harvest Diaries

What better time than the exciting harvest period to celebrate the world-class wines of Franschhoek and the Cape Winelands

Leeu Collection Founder and visionary Analjit Singh is as passionate about wine as he is about Franschhoek, five-star accommodation, contemporary art, and fine dining. 

Leeu Passant is the Franschhoek winery of Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, Mr Singh’s adventure into Cape wine heritage in partnership with Mullineux Wines Founders Chris and Andrea Mullineux. 

Although harvest season in the Cape Winelands typically kicks off from the end of January, the Leeu Estate grapes are slow ripening, and harvest can take place any time from mid-February until March. 

The first 2024 harvest on Leeu Estates took place with the picking of Sauvignon Blanc grapes at the Four Quarters Vineyard on 7 February, yielding an impressive 18.6 tons of grapes on the first day. 

Last year's cool, wet autumn and record-breaking cold, wet winter were a welcome relief after eight years of drought. Although the current harvest is shaping up to be intense due to a prior dry, warm summer, the developing fruit clusters show outstanding quality.

From bud break to veraison (when the grapes swell and develop colour, sugar levels and acid levels drop), the journey is flavoured by temperature, rainfall and TLC for the vines. The magic moment eventually arrives around six weeks post-veraison, marking the physiological ripeness for the six- to eight-week harvest season.

While often glamourised in the media, harvest season involves long hours, intense physical work and plenty of sweat. Despite the challenges, the shared experience of crafting fine wine creates strong bonds. Many former interns and cellar crews have become lifelong friends, eventually evolving into winemakers themselves. The collaborative journey of winemaking nurtures beautiful relationships that endure beyond the harvest.

Each day during harvest begins with an assessment of ongoing fermentation and planning for grape handling. The team goes on to meticulously sort grapes for quality - a time-consuming, hands-on process. 

A big emphasis for the Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines team is the human touch in winemaking. Andrea Mullineux tastes and adjusts daily winemaking actions based on flavour, temperature, aroma, and fermentation speed. It is a dynamic process, with decisions made in the moment to create distinctive, award-winning wines. 

Andrea cites sealing the last barrel as the most rewarding moment since the start of the harvest season. After overseeing vineyards and fermentations, the maturation phase begins from there. 

The hope is that, with careful and sincere attention at every step, the wine realises its full potential, as envisioned in the vineyard. And only time can be the ultimate judge…

Every year, the new vintage releases are strategically spaced, maintaining consistency in anticipation among trade clients and private customers. The New Leeu Passant vintages will be released in autumn 2024, with last year’s garnering up to 98 points from Greg Sherwood MW.

The flagship ‘The Leeu Passant’ consistently earns top scores, winning Red Blend of the Year in the Platter's Guide. Limited-edition Leeu Passant Semillon and Radicales Libres quickly find avid followers. Additionally, the Mullineux and Leeu Passant wines enter the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild Auction in October, adding excitement to showcase these rare wines globally. In 2023, the highly sought-after Leeu Passant Hillside Cabernet Franc - grown on the east-facing slopes just above Protea House on Leeu Estates - fetched the highest price to date in the event's history. 

Want to learn more about and sample these exquisite wines for yourself? 

Leeu Collection in-house guests can participate in witnessing the current harvest activities on specific dates from 07:00 to 08:00. Alternatively, for those who prefer a more relaxed start to the day, The Wine Studio on Leeu Estates invites you to immerse yourself in curated tastings led by passionate hosts who will guide you through the remarkable stories behind these premium, handcrafted wines.

Contact our Guest Liaison Team for more information on the wine, dining, accommodation, wellness and art on offer at Leeu Estates. 


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