SA wine grape harvest passes halfway mark; promising wines underway

by | March 29, 2022 | News

Harvest time at Piekenierskloof Wines in the Olifants River region.

After a slow start, harvest time is well underway as more than half of South Africa’s 2022 wine grape crop has already been taken in at cellars. The crop is still estimated to be smaller than in 2021, but larger than the five-year average.

“Although we started later than normal with the harvest, all ten wine producing regions have harvested a significant amount of grapes at this stage, which gives a good indication of volumes being delivered to cellars up to now,” says Conrad Schutte, manager of Vinpro’s viticultural consulting service, which issued the fourth crop estimate with SAWIS (SA Wine Industry Information & Systems). “The grape quality also looks good at this stage, which means that we can expect exceptional wines from the 2022 vintage.”

“According to the WineMS information management software, about 65% of the average wine grape harvest that goes through its system annually, has been taken in at cellars – almost a week later than normal,” says Christo Spies, WineMS CEO. The coastal regions are close to harvesting their last grapes, while most of the inland regions have passed the halfway mark.

The 2022 season was characterised by cooler weather conditions from winter to mid-December last year, which resulted in later than normal budding, flowering, veraison and ripening. Warm periods in December and January accelerated ripening, but the harvesting programme for most cultivars were still delayed by about seven to ten days.

Although there is variation in the crop estimate per region, the total crop is expected to be smaller, due to the geographical diversity of the respective regions. “The smaller harvest can mainly be attributed to showers in the Northern Cape and Klein Karoo that resulted in losses due to fungal diseases and rot; sunburn damage due to heat waves in the Swartland, Paarl and Robertson regions, as well as the uprooting of vineyards in certain regions due to financial considerations,” Conrad says.

On the other hand, favourable growth conditions, effective fungal disease control and sufficient irrigation water have thus far contributed to a bigger harvest in Stellenbosch and the Cape South Coast.

The final crop estimate by viticulturists and producer cellars will be issued in May 2022, together with the official SA Wine Harvest Report.

Wanda Augustyn
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