Wine producer association Vinpro says things are looking up for harvests in most wine grape regions in South Africa this year.
“Sufficient water and a moderate ripening period contributed to expectations of a somewhat larger 2020 South African wine grape harvest compared to 2019; however, still smaller than the long-term average,” notes Vinpro viticulrural consultation service manager Conrad Schutte.
According to South African Wine Industry Information & Systems, wine grape producers had realised a yield of 1.24-million tonnes in 2019, and the average wine grape crop over the past five years was 1.36-million tonnes.
Viticulturists and cellars submitted the latest harvest estimate mid-January following the first estimate in December.
Reasons for the latest harvest estimate include a variety of climatic factors, explains Schutte.
“Flowering and set were good and an improvement on what we saw in the previous season. Sufficient water and heat accelerated vineyard growth and the canopies are able to ripen a good harvest. Veraíson was early, quick and even.
“The summer growing conditions have been cool and moderate in general up to now. Producers have more water available this year than in the previous season, which means producers are able to apply irrigation during the ripening stage if need be,” he adds.
Schutte further points out that although things are looking up in most regions, the Northern Cape region experienced wide-spread frost damage, the Olifants River region is still recovering from the recent drought and parts of the Klein Karoo are still in the grip of a continuing drought. These regions expect smaller-than-average crops this year.
“We see good tonnages and grapes with beautiful colour, high malic acid and low pH levels in the cellars that have already started taking in grapes,” Schutte says.
He encourages producers to spend a lot of time in the vineyard during harvest time to take bunch samples and monitor soil water content for optimum water application.