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South Africa's grape harvest is down 2.6% on 2013 bumper crop

Published:  08 May, 2014

South Africa is on course for an average sized, good quality harvest despite heavy rains, says the body representing 3,600 of the country's producers.

VinPro said coastal regions had produced "exceptional" grapes, despite harvests being delayed by up to two weeks following cold winter and cool spring conditions.

South AfricaSouth AfricaSouth Africa is on course for an average-sized harvest, down 2.6% on last year’s bumper crop, says industry body VinPro.

There was high rainfall in mid-November and in January which meant less call for irrigation, but tighter disease control measures. 

VinPro said there was evidence of a "greater drive from producers to increase production and enhance profitability" from higher crop levels.

Overall the harvest will be around 2.6% smaller than 2013's record crop, reaching 1.46 million tonnes, according to the latest estimate from SA Wine Industry Information and Systems. 

The 2014 harvest, which includes juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes as well as wine for brandy and distilling, is expected to hit 1.13 billion litres - representing an average recovery of 774 litres per tonne of grapes.

Cool weather at the beginning of the growing season in August meant a slow start for vines with disease challenges heightened by plentiful rainfall in November. Downy mildew caused problems early in the season for some growers.

The weather improved for flowering, but rainfall again caused problems in January. Late January and February saw ideal conditions and a warm period sped up ripening - putting pressure on intakes in some areas. Cooler March weather boosted grape colour and flavour, while further rain at the end of the month pushed the harvest back to mid-April.

VinPro said: "Producers, viticulturists and winemakers look forward to a promising harvest with regard to quality. Moderate climate conditions during the harvest season contributed to intense colour, exceptional flavour and good structure in the red cultivars. White wines are expected to be particularly fruity and tropical, with fresh characteristics."

VinPro rated each region's harvest as follows: 

  • Breedekloof - An ideal year with exceptional quality and size; good colour in the red wines. 
  • Klein Karoo - A good, but smaller harvest than the record harvest in 2013, with outstanding Shiraz, Chardonnay and Merlot.
  • Malmesbury - Higher yield of remarkable quality due to good soil moisture conditions in this mainly dryland area.
  • Olifants River - A somewhat smaller harvest due to rot challenges, but with promising white and red wine quality.
  • Orange River - Great frost damage resulted in a substantially lower yield; Colombar, Chenin Blanc and muscadel wines show good potential.
  • Paarl - An exceptional year, with much higher yields - especially in dryland areas - and the promise of very high quality wines.
  • Robertson - A late and challenging year, with good quality and average production.
  • Stellenbosch - One of the wettest seasons in years has coincided with an outstanding harvest with regard to crop size and quality.
  • Worcester - Despite a very challenging season, above average yields were obtained, with exceptional Chenin Blanc quality.