With close to two thirds of this season’s wine grape harvest already in cellars, the most recent estimate indicates that the harvest may be somewhat smaller than the previous year.

Lees dit in Afrikaans. 

This is according to wine industry body SAWIS’s (SA wine industry information and systems) latest survey of producer cellars and Vinpro viticulturists.

“The berries and bunches are smaller, lighter and less dense than usual,” explains Francois Viljoen, manager of Vinpro’s viticulture consultation service. “This trend can be attributed to unfavourable weather conditions during flowering and set in October and November, as well as above average strength winds at the start of summer.”

Many vineyards, especially dryland vineyards, have not yet fully recovered from the effect of the three-year drought which continued in the Klein Karoo region last year.

According to Francois the rain that fell in March over certain areas of the Western Cape necessitated greater disease control inputs, while rot will also contribute to losses in certain wine grape areas.

The Northern Cape’s weather conditions have been moderate thus far, with normal yields expected in this region.

The official 2019 Wine Harvest Report will be published on 7 May. – VinPro