South African Wine Harvest Report 2003 - Swartland

Production trends
The 2003 season produced the biggest wine grape crop in 15 years. Estimated at approximately 105 474 tons, the crop is 31.8% bigger than the previous season. Almost all cultivars produced better than in 2002 and in exceptional cases a few blocks produced double the 2002 crop.

Climatic conditions and influence on vine growth 
The 2002/2003 season was one of the healthiest in many years. Normal spraying programmes provided very good control. 

The 2002 winter conformed with long term rainfall figures and cold temperatures. The season therefore got off to an excellent start. Good budding percentages in all cultivars resulted in even growth.

October and November temperatures were below the long term. Shoot growth was slower than usual, many shoots being shorter than 60 cm in the flowering period. Tipping and topping actions, where applicable (bush vines especially), could not be undertaken at the usual times. In some Chardonnay vineyards, as well as other isolated cases, berry set was poor with small, hard, green berries in bunches. Due to the cool weather, the flowering period was longer than usual.

From December to the end of the harvest, temperatures in the Swartland were normal. No significant summer rains occurred and irrigation had to be carefully scheduled to make do with the available water. 

Grape and wine quality
Wine quality is looking good, especially from grapes picked in the first half of the harvest. Late cultivars suffered due to the drought conditions. Good viticultural practice prevailed throughout the area. Regular bunch counts and crop control resulted in high quality wines. The above-average warm/dry ripening period called for pre-fermentation acid adjustments to white and red wines. 

The first crops of new cultivars in the Swartland (e.g. Petit Verdot, Malbec, Viognier) were harvested this season and the wines are eagerly anticipated.

Issued by: Yvette van der Merwe, Manager: Information Services - SAWIS (SA Wine Industry Information & Systems)
Tel: +27 (0) 21 807-5719