Wine harvest 4% down, but quality outstanding

South Africa’s 2015 wine harvest was expected to conclude at the end of this month with 75% of the grapes already harvested by mid-March.

This was according to Vinpro CEO Rico Basson, who spoke to the media at De Grendel Estate in Durbanville today (19 March).

“We have had a fantastic season for the third year in a row and while the crop will probably not be quite as big as last year’s record crop, we expect it to be in the same ballpark,” said Basson.

In 2014 the local wine industry produced the largest crop ever of more than 1,5 million tons. This year’s crop was expected to be 3% to 4% smaller, according to Francois Viljoen, manager of VinPro’s consultation service.

For most cellars harvest kicked off about two weeks earlier than normal. “This was the earliest harvest in decades, partially due to a warmer-than-usual August, followed by a hot, dry and very windy summer, which required additional irrigation. However, ideal, dry conditions during harvest time ensured healthy grapes with minimal occurrence of disease or rot,” said Viljoen.

“I can say with confidence, it has been a fantastic vintage,” said De Grendal cellar master Charles Hopkins.

Yields in the coastal regions such as Durbanville were about 10% down, but this was compensated for by higher yields in other regions, like the Orange River, said Hopkins.

More good news was that domestic wine sales increased by 7,3% in 2014, the largest increase in more than 20 years.