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Volumes up in "exceptional" South African harvest

Published:  05 May, 2020

South Africa’s 2020 harvest is up 8.2% on the previous year, according to the Vinpro harvest report released today.

The crop is estimated to be 1,349,883 tonnes, which should equate to around 1046.2 million litres of juice.

Production was up year on year in Stellenbosch, Swartland, Cape South Coast, Paarl and Breedekloof, while Klein Karoo and parts of Robertson still reported difficulties arising from the ongoing drought. Olifants River, also badly hit by the drought, has returned to normal production levels.

There were crop losses in the Northern Cape as a result of frost damage.

Vinpro, the South African wine trade body, is reporting quality to be high overall.

“We are excited about the exceptional wines that will flow from the 2020 wine grape crop, with Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay leading the pack,” said Conrad Schutte, Vinpro consultation service manager.

“The early cultivars showed very good acidity, and the colour and tannin analyses in the red wines promise full wines with concentrated flavour profiles.”

As Harpers reported last week, the South African wine industry was allowed to begin exports again on 1 May as the government began to ease the lockdown measures it imposed as a response to the coronavirus crisis.

Siobhan Thompson, chief executive of Wines of South Africa, said: “As an industry we are grateful and relieved to be able to resume exports. This finally enables us to showcase our exceptional new 2020 vintage wines to trade, media and consumers around the world.

“We would like to thank all of our international networks of agents, importers and friends who have never wavered in their support of our wine and our people, despite the challenges we’ve faced as an industry.”

2019/20 Growing Season (Vinpro report)

Most regions experienced a better post-harvest period than previous years. The leaves fell around the same time or later than usual, vines were healthier and producers had access to post-harvest irrigation water.

Sufficient cold units were accumulated during the winter to break dormancy, while rainfall varied across regions but was mostly below average.

With spring came mostly favourable conditions, which contributed to a somewhat earlier but even bud-break. The early growing season was especially known for good, homogenous shoot growth.

During summer, temperatures were moderate during the ripening period, with the absence of characteristic heat peaks. These conditions particularly bode well for the flavour retention in the grapes. Rainfall during the ripening period relieved pressure on water resources in some regions.