SA Harvest Report 2004 continued...


Production trends

During the 2004 harvest 184 027 tons of grapes were crushed in the Robertson Wine Valley. This is 4% more than in 2003. The early cultivars, especially Chardonnay and Pinotage, produced bigger crops. Extensive plantings of young red grape vineyards came into full production. 

Climatic conditions and influence on vine growth 

The 2003/2004 harvest was preceded by a cold but dry winter. Budding occurred 10 - 14 days later. Budding was even in early budding cultivars, but more uneven in later budding cultivars. Vineyards were growing vigorously right from the start thanks to favourable climatic conditions and the absence of strong winds. Flowering occurred 10 - 14 days later, with favourable conditions resulting in good even flowering and good set in the early cultivars in particular. In later flowering cultivars there was more attention to green bunch removal. 

After the thunder storms and rain in January, followed by humid conditions, Botrytis as well as grey rot became problematic, in the early cultivars especially. Regular light rain in Bonnievale further exacerbated the problem. There was hardly any incidence of rot in the later cultivars. Late in the season downy mildew and oidium resulted in delayed ripening and early leaf drop. Erinose occurred on the young leaves of especially Sauvignon blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon and mealybug was once again a problem, although ants were better controlled this year.

The 2004 ripening period will be remembered for the warm, humid conditions before the harvest, with heatwave conditions early in January and early in February. The harvest started 7 - 10 days later. During the second half of the harvest sugars increased suddenly and even ripening of most cultivars put pressure on red wine facilities especially. Acids were low throughout and acid adjustments required. 

Grape and wine quality 

The overall wine quality is good. As usual Chardonnay is looking very good, while the Sauvignon blanc that was crushed before the heatwave appears very promising. Once again the Colombar wines are very fruity. In general the colour and quality of the red wines are good; Merlot in particular is much better than last year. Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are also promising.

Klein Karoo

Production trends 

The past season the region could be divided into two definite areas, namely eastern and western. In the west (from Montagu to Barrydale) production figures were higher than in 2003, while production in the east (from Ladismith to Oudtshoorn) was lower than in 2003. The 2003/2004 crop amounts to 43 951 tons, which is 3,9% bigger than the 2003 crop. Bigger Colombar production, in the western area especially, contributed largely to the bigger crops. 

Climatic conditions and influence on vine growth

The 2003/2004-season was preceded by a dry winter with regular bergwind conditions. The good rainfall during March 2003 meant that the season kicked off with the highest dam levels ever. There was good accumulation of cold units and light snowfall occurred towards the end of winter and early in spring, on the Swartberg mountains especially. The cool weather in September meant that budding in the vineyards occurred 10 - 14 days later than normal and the early cultivars in particular were influenced. Initially vineyards grew slowly as a result of regular cold fronts. Early cultivars flowered over a very long period, to be followed by very vigorous growth. The summer was characterised by warm, dry weather with little rainfall. Heatwaves early in January caused sunburn damage, especially on the north-south rows in the vicinity of Montagu. Heatwaves also occurred on 9 and 10 February. Regular thunderstorms and rain occurred in the eastern parts of the Klein Karoo especially and caused rot on the early cultivars. 

The early cultivars were harvested up to 14 days later. This put great pressure on the cellars during the middle part of the crush. Skin ripeness was a much better indication of optimal ripeness than sugars. Acids were low on the whole. It was a very healthy season except for isolated cases of early downy mildew. Oidium and downy mildew occurred late in the season. Mealybug remains a problem in the Klein Karoo.

Grape and wine quality 

Wine quality looks very promising, especially where grapes came from blocks that were properly managed throughout the season. 

Information supplied by SAWIS and VinPro

Compiled and written by Romi Boom