Broadcasting Baroque to the vines at DeMorgenzon

Kobe beef cows may be jealous: the vines and barrel room at De Morgenzon winery in Stellenbosch have Baroque broadcast 24 hours a day.

The DJ is Hylton Applebaum, who owns the property with his wife Wendy (Hylton also owns the Classic FM radio station in Johannesburg). Hylton says that the mix includes no music “that annoys people,” ruling out harpsichord, energetic violin solos or organ, which sounded funereal. Opera and all human voice were excluded from the track because they could be too jarring for the staff and neighbors. The staff that I spoke with say the music has a calming effect. Only certain blocks have been wired for sound, including a block of syrah behind the winery.

Hylton says the vineyard with the music shows slower growth than adjacent vineyards that have no music. “We are able to achieve phenolic ripeness with lower sugars,” he said as we stood among the vines.

I asked him if techno would speed up the growth. He said that some experiments in central Europe had shown a variation in tomatoes with the type of music played; jazz worked well but heavy metal killing the plants.

De Morgenzon’s “DMZ” line represents good value at about $15 in the US; the standout of the line is the crisp chardonnay, which has just a hint of early Mozart on the nose. Their top wine, a 100% chenin blanc, presented a serious side of chenin. But more on that in a future post.

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4 Responses to “Broadcasting Baroque to the vines at DeMorgenzon”

  1. New to your site and I’m loving it! I guess it’s the same theory as talking to your plants – show them some love and they’ll show you some love back! 🙂

    — Kristy @ Wine Logic

  2. One of the best parts about the wine business is encountering all the various eccentric ways vintners care for their wines, and this is no exception. I just love the idea of serenading vines. I have heard that anecdotal evidence exists for tomatoes responding to jazz, but I’ve never heard of grapes that love Baroque music! Is there any scientific basis for music impacting plant growth or is it all anecdotal? I talk to my cactus, but I’m not sure that counts. I imagine that strolling through those vineyards is even nicer thanks to the calming music, and I look forward to trying the music-treated wines.

    John @ Wine Club Guide

  3. […] news, I found one article from Dr. Vino which I wanted to share with you – it is about use of the music in the vineyard – what do you think, can the music affect the vines and lead to better (or worse) […]

  4. Bodega Langes, a north China winery backed by Austrian crystal guy Gernot Langes-Swarovski, has also been playing classical music to the vines for years. Unfortunately, any benefits seem to be offset — at least based on the BL wines I’ve tasted — by using local oak.

    Also of note, DeMorgenzon’s winemaker — Carl van der Merwe — is in northwest China at the moment making wine.

    Cheers, Boyce


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