Dog Detectives

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“DOGS can be used as

pest and disease detectors in vineyards,

according to a Melbourne University researcher.”


Article from TheWeeklyTimes

Sonja Needs, a lecturer and tutor in wine, climate change, adaptation and animal science, says dogs can detect for beehive collapse, termites and fire ants.

Ms Needs, who worked at CSIRO and has a background in winemaking, said the major advantage dogs had as a detection tool was they were versatile and fast.

“Dogs have a greater sensitivity to volatile molecules than most mobile gas chromatography detectors, and they can sort and discriminate scents where machines have difficulty,” she said.

“We start the dogs off on a neutral substance, a specific volatile substance that they will not encounter elsewhere once in their environment.

“Once they’re reliable on the first odour, we can shift them on to whatever substance that we want.”

Ms Needs started detector research and training with her late German Shepherd Luther and now her Border Terrier, Keely.

Ms Needs and Luther volunteered for search and rescue but Luther developed degenerative canine myelopathy, a condition similar to motor neurone disease.

“Luther was still mentally fine but physically was not able to do the search and rescue,” she said.

Ms Needs started researching using dogs as detectors.

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Autumn in the Vineyard

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We are so amazed at the rate the vineyards are changing colour! From a picturesque green and blue view, it is quickly changing to orange, red, yellow and grey – but still so beautiful! Now we are just waiting for that white lining on the mountain peaks!

To fit the beautiful picture from Casian Johnson Wright, we found this poem written by Andy-Anna

Merwida-low res

Autumn In The Vineyard

 Replenishing their nutrients
dormant they become
as harvest Is over
the fruits of our labour
exhaust the vines.

Like a snake shedding It’s skin
the vines begin dropping leaves
transforming from green to orange
with some turning reddish

A delicate breeze passes by
removing those last leaves
just barely hanging on
they drop and scatter
around my feet

As my working days end
I look over my shoulder
to see the vineyard
laying dormant
waiting for the season to
bring back It’s life cycle.

Harvest Season 2015: Week 7

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Grapes are coming in a bit slower as we near the end of harvest season. Seven weeks of very hard work and long hours… One can imagine that all involved are looking forward to the end of harvest season – your body (and mind) can only take so much.

After week 7 we’ve managed to get in just over 13,000 tons of grapes. And the end, is in sight…

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Harvest Season 2015: Week 6

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Six weeks have gone by since we started this year’s harvest season, and although the weather this week was quite strange, our total tonnages stand on a whopping 11,900 in total.

We passed the 10 000 tons mark!

Tuesday made out to be one of the hottest days in Cape Town’s history, and Rawsonville did not fall short. At an exhausting 42 degrees Celsius at 5pm, the day did not seem to cool down at all. But, through it all, we received a record of 515 tons in one day. (Not sure if we should wish for more hot days like these, but we will spare you, and the whole Western Cape, the sweat)


Harvest Season 2015: Week 5

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At week 5 our tonnages raised to 9600, only a while before we hit the 10 000 mark! Our winemakers are very happy with the quality and quantity, and we cannot wait to taste this year’s wines!


Harvest Season 2015: Week 4

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We are at 7600 tons after week 4. Although harvest season means extra long working hours, at the end, it is all worth while!


Harvest Season 2015: Week 2

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We are very busy this week and with Eskom’s load-shedding interrupting our harvesting procedures, we’ve had some pretty late nights. Luckily it was worth the fight as we managed to end week 2 of 2015’s harvesting season just below the 3000 tons mark!

Lucky for us (and all our Merwida drinkers), our generator has been installed and we will not be having any more downtime due to load-shedding!

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Harvest Season 2015: Week 1

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Yip, we are one week into harvest season 2015 and also at the end of January! (Can you believe it!?) Although one week means only a glimpse of the harvest to come, we are glad that the week is over and that we could get back into making new, award-winning wines for all our fans out there. Thus far, we’ve harvested 1000 tons of grapes!

1000 tons harvested = ± 750 000 litres = ± 1 000 000 bottles