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South Africa’s 2022 will still pack a punch despite smaller grape crop

Published:  06 June, 2022

The annual South African Wine Harvest Report suggests that the 2022 vintage “will wow consumers with exceptional quality wines," albeit from a smaller grape crop than in 2021. 

The harvest time was delayed by 10 to 14 days due to cold temperatures. According to Conrad Schutte, consultation manager for Vinpro: “A cool-season and moderate weather conditions in most regions during harvest time slowed down ripening, which allowed vines to develop stunning flavour and colour in this year’s wine grape crop,”

The smaller wine grape crop can be attributed to a decline in the overall vineyard area due to the uprooting of vineyards, disease pressure caused by untimely rainfall just before or during harvest time, and isolated cases of sunburn as a result of heatwaves in certain regions.  

Schutte added: “South Africa’s wine industry is spread over a wide range of cultivation areas with diverse climatic conditions that affect the harvest differently in each region.”

Most grape-growing regions yielded a smaller crop, except for the Cape South Coast and Stellenbosch regions. 

The wine production for 2022 – including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling wine – is expected to amount to 1 072.4 million litres at an average recovery of 778 litres per ton of grapes. 

"Despite harvest 2022 being slightly more challenging for our winemakers, we have already had the opportunity to taste some of the first releases of white wines, which have shown superb quality and are likely to aid the premiumisation of the category,” said Siobhan Thompson, CEO of WoSA (Wines of South Africa).  

“While we are still seeing a continued interest in South African Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, the continued challenges faced by exporters due to the global shipping chain constraints is somewhat of a dampener, which the industry hopes to mitigate in due time.” 

South Africa is the eighth biggest wine producer worldwide and accounts for 4% of the world’s wine. The wine industry contributes more than R55 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs close to 269 000 people throughout the value chain, of which more than 80 000 work on farms and in cellars.

Overview of regions 


The 2022 season was late and drawn out and will be remembered for extremes, including a cool growing season and a sudden heat peak in February. As a result, the crop will likely be slightly smaller than the record harvest in 2021. 

Cape South Coast 

Availability of water, in conjunction with ideal winter conditions, laid the foundation for an exceptional season, despite challenges due to fungal pressure and cool, wet weather during summer months. As a result, the wine grape crop is expected to be somewhat larger than in 2021. 

Klein Karoo 

The 2022 vintage in the Klein Karoo region will be remembered for its late harvest, and although the crop may be smaller than in 2021, producers expect good quality wines. 

Northern Cape 

One of the toughest seasons in years for wine grape producers along the Orange River, characterised by above-average rainfall, high disease pressure and flood risks. Yields were much lower than normal, but producers remain hopeful that they will produce a larger crop in 2023. 

Olifants River 

A challenging season due to high disease pressure, heatwaves, and uneven ripening; however, producers who followed good management practices faced significantly fewer challenges and could boast good yields. As a result, the region’s wine grape crop was smaller than in 2021.  


The 2022 vintage will be remembered for a cool season, followed by a sudden temperature spike from January, which contributed to a smaller wine grape crop than last year. Nevertheless, where good vineyard practices were followed, vineyard blocks delivered exceptional grape analyses and wine quality. 


Although smaller than the record crop of 2021, this vintage still boasts an above-average yield and quality. The season was extremely drawn out with several challenges, but producers were fortunate to have sufficient irrigation water. 


Ideal winter conditions that supplemented water reserves and contributed to even growth provided an excellent foundation for the 2022 crop, which is expected to be larger than the 2021 crop. Judging by the quality of the wines currently in the cellars, the region anticipates another classic Stellenbosch vintage. 


Harvest time started later than normal due to cool weather conditions until the end of December, followed by extremely hot weather during harvest time that accelerated ripening and placed pressure on cellar capacity. As a result, the average yield is lower than the previous year, but promising wines are underway. 


The 2022 harvest started later than usual due to a cool growing season. As a result, the crop was smaller than in 2021 but still above average for the region. Wine quality seems promising, and consumers can expect outstanding red wines.