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Late but quality harvest helps SA producers with oversupply

Published:  24 May, 2021

Vinpro has declared the 2021 vintage one of "consistent high quality” in what was overall a cooler season.

The harvest began around two weeks later than normal due to the unusually cool weather conditions throughout the season, which persisted through harvest, meaning that for some the harvest didn’t finish until May, the  Vinpro South African Wine Harvest Report 2021 released today stated. 

Water resources were replenished in most regions, following the recent drought, which contributed to good vine growth, bunch numbers and berry sizes. 

The 2021 grape crop is estimated at 1,461,599 tonnes, according to the latest figures from industry body South African Wine Industry Information & Systems (SAWIS) on 19th May 2021, meaning the harvest is 8.9% larger than in 2020. 

“It seems as though the vines really took their time to prepare this year’s harvest,” said Conrad Schutte, consultation and service manager, Vinpro.

“Moderate weather throughout the season, and specifically during harvest time, resulted in grapes ripening slower, while developing exceptional colour and flavour. The cooler weather enabled producers to harvest the grapes at exactly the right time. Viticulturists and winemakers are especially excited about good colour extraction, low pH levels and high natural acidity,” he said.

Importantly, the later harvest has helped to ease pressure on producers still holding stock due to the 2020 ban on exports and restrictions on local sales, said Vinpro. 

“With stock still in tanks at the beginning of harvest, producers were concerned about processing and storage capacities, many rented additional storage space or restored older tanks,” said MD Rico Basson. “However, with sales reopening and the later start to the harvest, this pressure was eased to some extent.” 

After all the hardship the South African wine industry faced in 2020 the quality of the 2021 harvest provided the industry with a “great opportunity” to grow existing and new export markets, added Siobhan Thompson, CEO, Wines of South Africa

”We are delighted that the 2021 harvest has proved to be a silver lining for the South African wine industry, which will no doubt further bolster our strong international position. 

“What stands out is the consistency in quality, something we have seen continually in recent years. Already in 2021 our exports in both volume and value terms are out-performing figures from 2020 and 2019. The positive news about this year’s harvest will reinforce our overall standing alongside our international competitors.”