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VinPro reports 15% smaller harvest

Published:  09 May, 2018

VinPro has reported a 15% smaller harvest (1 220 920 tonnes) across South Africa compared to 2017 – one of the smallest crops in more than a decade.

Initially expected to be even smaller, the 2018 harvest suffered from a decline in vineyard area, an ongoing drought and crop losses due to frost and hail.

All regions except the Breedekloof reported a smaller wine grape crop, with the Olifants River region being hit hardest due to a water allocation amounting to only 20% of the region’s normal allowance from the Clanwilliam Dam, according to VinPro.

In addition to water shortages, some vines in the Breedekloof, Worcester and Robertson areas were affected by frost damage in September and October 2017, with the Northern Cape region, where water supply was sufficient, also had a decrease in production as vines recovered poorly from frost damage earlier in the season, it said.

“The 2018 harvest season was really challenging, due to a prolonged drought which some believe to be the worst in 100 years, and accompanied by water restrictions and frost damage in some areas,” said Francois Viljoen, manager of Vinpro’s viticultural consultation service.

The dry weather throughout the season did have its advantages though as vines were healthy, with little or no pests and diseases being recorded in most regions and wine grape producers and cellars were positive about the quality of wines from the 2018 harvest, he added.

“The amount of grape bunches looked promising at first, but the berries were much smaller than usual, which affected the total tonnage. Smaller berries usually have good colour and flavour intensity and this, along with cooler weather during harvest time relieved some pressure on vines and bode well for quality,” said Viljoen.

Consumers could look forward to some really good wines from the 2018 vintage, he added.

Wines of South Africa said it also felt “very positive” about the prospective quality of the grapes from 2018 harvest – one of the most important issues for the south African wine industry.

“It is imperative that the standards of the wines we sell both locally and abroad can compete with that from the rest of the world. It shows true character, not only in the quality of our terroir, but also from our winemakers, to adapt and overcome such challenging conditions in order to remain viable,” said CEO Siobhan Thompson.

South Africa is the eight biggest wine producer worldwide and produces about 4% of the world’s wine, according to VinPro.