2006 Wine Grape Harvest ? Bigger harvests than in 2005 in all regions

The 2006 South African wine grape harvest is estimated at 1 283 850 tons according to the industry's (producer cellars and viticulturists) estimate as on 25 November 2005. This represents an expected increase of 10 per cent on the 2005 harvest. The 2005 wine grape harvest was 11,1 per cent smaller than the 2004 harvest. It is expected that the 2006 wine harvest, including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, rebate and distilling wine, will amount to 993,7 million litres at an average recovery of 774 litres per ton of grapes. At this stage an increase in harvest tonnage is expected in all regions. This prediction is based on visual observations - Olifants River having the smallest expected increase (5 per cent), with the Little Karoo and Worcester regions predicting the biggest increases of 15 per cent each.

The run-up to these positive prospects was the characteristic, cold and wet winter which the Western Cape experienced again after two abnormally dry winters. As a result, water supplies appear to be sufficient for the 2005/2006 season. Good budding was obtained, with the exception of Shiraz, which budded unevenly overall. Good weather conditions at the start of the growing season led to good growth as well as flowering and set in the early varieties. However, gale force winds at the beginning of November put a strain on growth - a lot of shoots were topped, which led to uneven set, especially in Merlot - and the already uneven Shiraz vineyards. Producers followed good preventative disease control programmes throughout and threatening downy mildew infections were nipped in the bud. The biggest increase in production seems to be in red varieties, mainly as a result of the huge red plantings of the past few years still coming into full production. Merlot, Cabernet and Pinotage vineyards' bearing look exceptionally good. Good news is also that the bearing of white varieties such as Chenin blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Colombar look very promising at this stage.

It is estimated that domestic sales of wine (natural, sparkling and fortified) will increase by 0,2 per cent in 2005 and by 1,3 per cent in 2006. Exports of wine will increase by an estimated 13,0 per cent this year and are forecast to grow a further 11,4 percent next year. However, the profitability of exports is still a matter of concern to the industry as a result of the strong rand exchange rate. Sales of brandy are estimated to have increased by 4,5 per cent in 2005 and will grow by a further 3,4 per cent in 2006.

 The above figures will result in an estimated decrease in the stock level at producer and private cellars to 247,4 million litres on 31 December 2006 compared to 308,4 million litres on 31 December 2005.

For further enquiries please contact Yvette van der Merwe (tel 021-807 5703, fax 021-8076000, email yvette@sawis.co.za).

Vereniging ingelyf kragtens artikel 21/Association incorporated
under section 21
Registrasienommer/Registration number:1999 016278/08
Direkteure/Directors: A M Kruger (voorsitter/chairperson), J H Krige,
Ds/Rev G D Swartz, B H Botha, Dr J Deist, Dr C J van Rooyen
Sekretaris/Secretary: A J Matthee
Bus/Box 238 Paarl 7620 Suid-Afrika/South Africa
Tel: (021) 807 5703 Fax: (021) 807 6000
E-pos/E-mail: yvette@sawis.co.za