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Only region without smaller grape yield

This year’s wine harvest is expected to be about 15% smaller than the last, although the Breedekloof region is the only one that didn’t report a smaller wine grape crop this year.

According to the wine industry body Vinpro, the 2018 harvest will, at 1 220 920 t, be 15% smaller than in 2017. It was initially expected to be even smaller.

“The 2018 harvest season was really challenging, due to a prolonged drought which some believe to be the worst in 100 years,” Francois Viljoen, manager of Vinpro’s viticultural consultation service, pointed out, “and was accompanied by water restrictions and frost damage in some areas.”

All regions except the Breedekloof reported a smaller wine grape crop, with the Olifants River region being hit hardest, due to a water allocation amounting to only 20%, the region’s normal allowance.

In addition to water shortages, some vines in the Breedekloof, Worcester and Robertson areas were affected by frost damage in September and October 2017.

“We feel very positive about the prospective quality of the grapes from the 2018 harvest as this is one of the most important issues that we are focusing on as an industry,” says Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa (Wosa).

“I take my hat off to South African wine grape producers and winemakers for adapting their practices in the vineyard and cellar to decrease the effect of the water shortages,” says Viljoen.

The 2018 wine harvest – juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling wine included – is expected to amount to 948,3 million litres, calculated at an average recovery of 777 litres per ton of grapes.

In many areas vines kept their leaves for longer than usual in the post-harvest period (April and May 2017), which was beneficial for the accumulation of reserves for the coming season.

The Olifants River, Breedekloof, Paarl and Swartland regions reported less than half their long-term average rainfall and the Klein Karoo, at only 20%. The Robertson region obtained good berry set due to warm, dry weather and sufficient irrigation during flowering.
Overview of regions:

Breedekloof: Very healthy conditions and the fact that new Colombar and Pinotage plantings came into production contributed to a somewhat larger wine grape crop.

Robertson: A smaller, but very promising wine grape harvest, despite frost damage in some areas.

Worcester: One of the most challenging seasons yet due to water restrictions and frost, but wine grape producers and winemakers were innovative in the vineyard and cellar to produce good wines.

Visit www.vinpro.co.za for the full harvest report per region.

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