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SA wine grape harvest passes halfway mark; promising wines underway

Published:  29 March, 2022

After a slow start, harvest is well underway as more than half of South Africa’s 2022 wine grape crop has already been taken in at cellars. The crop is still estimated to be smaller than in 2021 but larger than the five-year average.

“Although we started later than normal with the harvest, all 10 wine-producing regions have harvested a significant amount of grapes at this stage, which gives a good indication of volumes being delivered to cellars up to now,” said Conrad Schutte, manager of Vinpro’s viticultural consulting service, which issued the fourth crop estimate with SAWIS (SA Wine Industry Information & Systems). “The grape quality also looks good at this stage, which means we can expect exceptional wines from the 2022 vintage.”

“According to the WineMS information management software, about 65% of the average wine grape harvest that goes through its system annually has been taken in at cellars – almost a week later than normal,” said Christo Spies, WineMS CEO. The coastal regions are close to harvesting their last grapes, while most inland regions have passed the halfway mark.

Cooler weather conditions characterised the 2022 season from winter to mid-December last year, which resulted in later than normal budding, flowering, veraison and ripening. Warm periods in December and January accelerated ripening, but the harvesting programme for most cultivars was still delayed by about seven to ten days.

Although there is variation in the crop estimate per region, the total crop is expected to be smaller due to the geographical diversity of the respective regions. “The smaller harvest can mainly be attributed to showers in the Northern Cape and Klein Karoo that resulted in losses due to fungal diseases and rot, [plus] sunburn damage due to heatwaves in the Swartland, Paarl and Robertson regions, as well as the uprooting of vineyards in certain regions due to financial considerations,” added Conrad.

On the other hand, favourable growth conditions, effective fungal disease control and sufficient irrigation water have thus far contributed to a bigger harvest in Stellenbosch and the Cape South Coast.

The final crop estimate by viticulturists and producer cellars will be issued in May 2022, and the official SA Wine Harvest Report.