Further Decrease in Grape Harvest

The 2006 wine grape harvest is estimated at 1 245 182 tons according to the industry's (producer cellars and viticulturists) estimate as on 10 February 2006.  This is 20 748 tons (approximately two per cent) less than the estimate of January 2006, but still 6 per cent bigger than the 2005 harvest.  It is expected that the 2006 wine harvest, including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, rebate and distilling wine, will amount to 960 million litres at an average recovery of 771 litres per ton of grapes.  This is respectively 29.8 and 16 million litres less than the estimate of 25 November 2005 and 10 January 2006.

The decrease in the harvest is mainly attributed to the continuous desiccating winds that have been blowing since December in the Western Cape as well as abnormal heat waves that occurred in the latter part of January.  These desiccating winds and heat has led to the drying up of underground water in especially dry land vineyards in the Malmesbury, Stellenbosch and Paarl regions with a consequent negative impact on volumes.  More reasons that could be cited for the decrease is shrinking water supplies with regard to irrigated vineyards, especially in certain parts of the Little Karoo, Olifants River and Worcester.  In the Northern Cape widespread rain during January and the beginning of February led to berry-burst (korrelbars) and rot in Sultanas and certain other varieties.  Downey mildew outbreaks also occurred widely.  It seems as if the continuous drought and heat conditions also have a further negative impact on the rest of the harvest and in all likelihood, it appears as if the harvest will decrease further rather than increase.

The above figures will result in an estimated decrease in the stock level at producer and private cellars to 232,6 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 021-807 6000, email yvette@sawis.co.za).