Vinpro expects 2023 wine grape season to deliver 'excellent' wines

17th May 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


Font size: - +

The 2023 wine grape season in South Africa commenced harvesting at the usual time in early February, at which point experts were impressed by grape analysis, which showed low pH levels and high organic acids at ideal sugar levels.

Dry conditions during cell division and enlargement resulted in smaller berries, which benefited grape quality. Excellent flavour, as well as colour profiles, were observed, said wine industry organisation Vinpro in its 'South African Wine Harvest Report 2023'.

The 2022/23 season will be remembered for the dry and warmer winter, generally good growing conditions during the vegetative growth phase, good rain shortly before véraison which benefited quality, and a cool and wet ripening period, which gave grapes a chance to ripen optimally at a slower rate.

“Wine lovers can look forward to high-quality wines from this season. Smaller berries driven by the dry conditions during the cell division and enlargement stage benefited grape quality to deliver excellent flavour and colour profiles,” says Vinpro consultation services manager Conrad Schutte.

“Viticulturists and winemakers are particularly excited about excellent colour extraction, low pH levels and high natural acids in cases where vineyards have been effectively managed, all of which indicate exceptional quality wines.”

South Africa is the ninth largest wine producer in the world and produces approximately 4% of the world’s wine. The wine industry contributes more than R55-billion to the country’s gross domestic product and employs 269 069 people across the value chain, of which 80 173 work on farms and in cellars.

“The wine industry's stock levels are currently in equilibrium, unlike during the Covid-19 pandemic when the wine industry was not allowed to trade for 200 days, and stock levels stood at 650-million litres. With the smaller harvest, excellent quality wines and the market that has turned from a buyers’ to a sellers' market, the South African wine industry is ready for business,” says Vinpro MD Rico Basson.

The 2023 wine harvest, including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy, and distilling wine, is estimated to amount to 917.2-million litres, at a recovery of 777 litres per tonne of grapes.

“Despite what was by all accounts a challenging harvest for our winemakers, we are positive that we can look forward to superb 2023 vintage wines to share with our consumers around the world. We have seen the demand for South African wines grow and anticipate our wines will continue to deliver the excellent quality we are becoming known for,” says Wines of South Africa (WoSA) CEO Siobhan Thompson.

The 2023 wine grape harvest is estimated at 1 180 093 t, which is 14.2% smaller than the 2022 harvest.

The net decrease to the harvest is mainly attributed to the uprooting of vineyard in the Northern Cape, Olifants River and Swartland, in particular.

High disease pressure, especially powdery mildew infections and Botrytis in the regions of the Northern Cape, Olifants River, Swartland, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Cape South Coast and Cape Town, has had a negative impact on the harvest size. Heat peaks in December and January caused sunburn especially in the Swartland, Worcester and Breedekloof.

Further, across all the regions, especially the intensively irrigated areas, the lack of electricity to run irrigation pumps had a negative impact on crop size.

“Compared to other seasons, the 2023 harvest is very similar to previous cooler seasons, such as 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2021. It particularly resembles the combination of cold and wet conditions of 2014 and 2019. In terms of volume, 2023 may be one of the smallest harvests in more than a decade,” said Schutte.

The above-average rainfall at the end of February and throughout March brought further challenges this season.

Well-thought-through decisions for optimal grape quality and winemaking methods focused on the production of high-quality wines, were of utmost importance. Well-managed vineyards throughout the season and timely adjustments to management practices by producers under these challenging circumstances resulted in excellent quality grapes that exceeded expectations, Vinpro said in the report.

Meanwhile, the report detailed the 2023 season for different production regions and, for Breedekloof, the year will be remembered for a two-part harvest, particularly berry sizes and problems with loadshedding at farm and cellar level.

For the Cape South Coast region, the early-season wines reflect an excellent vintage, while the late-season wines showcase the expertise and ingenuity of the winemaking teams. In the Cape Town growing region, the 2023 season set the table for excellent, fresh wine styles and lower volumes owing to natural factors leading up to the harvest.

Further, in the Klein Karoo, there was an early vintage with good grape quality and exceptionally high summer rainfall, while in the Northern Cape, a challenging wine grape season gave rise to a noticeably smaller harvest with an increase in flavour concentration and wine quality. Colombar’s prospects look especially good.

In the Olifants River production region, this season will be remembered for its cool temperatures, and wet and muggy weather from December onwards. Water security and energy availability largely determine the region's wine grape harvest. For Paarl, the season is known for ideal weather conditions and the absence of severe heat waves. The pressing conditions were also particularly favourable until the end of February and grape quality was excellent.

Vinpro noted that, in the Robertson region, below average production was delivered after a divided season. Ideal conditions prevailed until the first major rainfall in March during which some of the best grape quality in decades was observed.

In the Stellenbosch region, a cooler ripening period ensured high-quality wine with early cultivars. Late cultivars have been more challenging, but good management practices produce high-quality grapes.

In the Swartland region, the season was characterised by ideal, moderate weather conditions during the first part of the harvest, with early and mid-season cultivars achieving optimal, full ripeness at lower sugars.

Further, in Worcester, a relatively dry winter and summer and warmer growing season led to smaller berry sizes in all cultivars, which was a determining factor for the region’s smaller harvest.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



Weir Minerals Africa and Middle East
Weir Minerals Africa and Middle East

Weir Minerals Europe, Middle East and Africa is a global supplier of excellent minerals solutions, including pumps, valves, hydrocyclones,...

SAIMC (Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Mechatronics and Control)
SAIMC (Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Mechatronics and Control)

Education: Consulting with member companies to obtain the optimal benefits from their B-BBEE spending, skills resources as well as B-BBEE points


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Magazine round up | 01 December 2023
Magazine round up | 01 December 2023
1st December 2023

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.26 0.313s - 138pq - 2rq
Subscribe Now