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Western Cape wine harvest smaller, but better

May 09 2018 17:05

Cape Town - Despite challenging drought conditions, and bouts of frost in certain wine producing areas, this year’s wine grape harvest has the potential to produce truly excellent wines.

According to industry body Vinpro’s harvest report, the total 2018 harvest was 15% smaller than the 2017 harvest, coming in at 1 220 920 tonnes. This is slightly bigger than initially anticipated, given the estimate of a 20% smaller crop size from the drought report prepared by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy and the Department of Agriculture earlier this year.

The Vinpro report indicates that, while berries were smaller - affecting tonnage - they are of excellent quality. The hot and dry conditions, while impacting berry size, also meant that vines remained healthy and were not impacted by pests and rot.

Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde said it has been a challenging season for all farmers, and this harvest is testament to the hard work and commitment of wine farmers, and all their staff.

Winde said that while the harvest was smaller- it presented a number of opportunities for the wine industry.

“We know that globally, there is a wine shortage because the big three producers - France, Italy and Spain - all suffered poor crops as a result of climate related issues," he said.

"The global wine shortage gives our South African, and especially our Western Cape wines, a gap to prove our worth. This year’s wines are going to be of excellent quality. Coupled with the shortage, this will allow South African wine producers to negotiate better prices on the export market.”

The wine industry will also be looking to non-traditional export markets like the US, China and the rest of Africa in a bid to grow exports.

“Despite 2017 also being a drought year, wine exports to Angola doubled in 2017, while exports to China grew by 109% between 2014 and 2017. These markets are showing themselves to be very receptive to our wines," Winde.

"Our challenge now, is to ensure these sales, which are currently mostly bulk wine sales, grow into brand awareness for Western Cape wines and sales of bottled wines.”

According to the Vinpro report, the Breedekloof area produced a healthy harvest, with new plantings of Colomba and Pinotage contributing to a larger crop. The Swartland has also had a good year in terms of wine grape quality.

Hardest hit was the Olifants River region, which relies on the Clanwilliam dam for water, and where water allocations were severely curtailed.

Winde once again called on the national Department of Water and Sanitation to make the raising of the Clanwilliam dam wall a priority.

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vinpro  |  alan winde  |  western cape  |  agriculture  |  wine
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