Thursday, February 15th, 2007...6:16 pm
Why Pinot Noir?
Pinot Noir is a particularly difficult grape to grow and it is surprising to some that it works for us here in Kenya. The vineyard is situated south of the Ngong Hills, on the edge of the Rift Valley.
Looking north towards the Ngong Hills from the edge of the Rift.
Why does Pinot Noir work for us? We think it is because the vineyard is at 6,300 feet (1920 meters) which means that we have cold nights, sometimes as low as 8 to 12 degrees celcius although more normally 17 to 18 degrees celcius. The mornings can be cold and often misty.
Cold and misty mornings at altitude make perfect growing conditions.
In addition the vineyard is planted on a west facing slope, and on rocky terraces running across the hill so that each line of vines gets maximum sunshine during the day and is sheltered from the strong winds that blow predominantly from the east. Afternoon temperatures are high, sometimes 35 degrees celcius. Infact our vines have sometimes suffer from sunburn particularly after a suphur treatment to control powdery mildew. We are on the equator here and so our daily sunshine hours are close to 12 hours all year around. We don’t have the long summer evenings that I have enjoyed very occasionally in Europe at in the summer months.
If we plant the same vines on the top of the hill without the slope and where there are quite strong winds from the east they dont work. It is too windy and the grapes dont ripen to satisfaction due to the lower sunshine levels because there is no slope and terracing.