2007 Wine grape harvest - bigger harvest than in 2006 expected

The 2006 wine grape harvest was 10,8 per cent bigger than the 2005 harvest. It is expected that the 2007 wine harvest, including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, rebate and distilling wine, will amount to 1 029,7 million litres at an average recovery of 771 litres per ton of grapes.

Besides the Orange River region, where a slightly smaller harvest than in 2006 is expected, bigger harvests are predicted in all the other regions with the largest increases expected in the Robertson and Little Karoo regions.

The most important factors contributing to the potentially bigger harvest are:

  • the cold, wet winter resulting in sufficient water supplies for the 2006 / 2007 season.
  • the occurrence of good budding and growth.
  • good cluster / harvest load on virtually all the varieties.
  • conscious efforts by producers to increase the production of medium to low priced products in order to increase the profitability of these vines.
  • the red wine plantings of 1998 to 2002 now coming into full production.

The two most important factors that could negatively affect the size of the harvest are:

  • the cold, wet and windy weather conditions that occurred during a significant part of the flowering- and set periods which led to weaker setting. At the time of the November harvest prediction the total effect of this in the vineyards could not yet be determined.
  • the regular wet and sometimes humid weather conditions also resulted in very high fungal pressure and despite producers having good prevention spraying programs in place, slight damage is widely reported.

The biggest increase in production is once again predicted to be in red varieties. The white varieties' harvest also looks promising at this stage. The bigger harvest could, however, have an adverse impact on the profit margins of producers with grape and wine prices currently under pressure and expected to come under further pressure in 2007. 

Local grape prices decreased by 22,6 per cent from 2003 to 2006, while red wine prices decreased by 35 per cent. On the other hand, white wine prices increased by 7,5% during the same period. The international oversupply of wine also puts exports and prices internationally under further pressure.

It is estimated that local sales of wine (natural, sparkling and fortified) will increase by 0,5 per cent in 2006 and by 1,0 per cent in 2007. Exports of wine for the same period will decrease by an estimated 2,2 per cent and thereafter grow by 2,8 per cent. Sales of brandy are estimated to increase by 3,4 per cent in 2006 and will grow by a further 2,1 per cent in 2007.

The above figures will result in an estimated increase in the stock level at producer and private cellars to 430,8 million litres on 31 December 2007 compared to 404,2 million litres on 31 December 2006.

For further enquiries please contact Yvette van der Merwe (tel 021-807 5703, fax 021-807 6000, e-mail yvette@sawis.co.za).