South African Wine Harvest Report 2003 - Worcester

Production trends
The 2003 crop is approximately 6.2% bigger than that of 2002. The bigger crop is mainly due to new plantings and favourable weather conditions, especially during the pressing season.

The premium white wine cultivars were down by approximately 3%, the biggest decrease being in Chardonnay. Sauvignon blanc was up by 6%, mostly due to increased plantings. Standard white wine cultivars (Chenin blanc; Colombar; etc.) were up by approximately 2%. The Hanepoot and Muscadel crops were more than 20% bigger. 

Premium and standard red wine cultivars showed an increase of approximately 34% and 16% respectively. Cellars were under a lot of pressure as far as capacity is concerned, with some only finishing towards the middle of April.

Climatic conditions and influence on vine growth 
The preceding winter was cold, with regular snowfall. On the whole budding was good. Autumn rainfall was higher in the traditionally drier Worcester-East areas and lower in higher rainfall areas such as Slanghoek (Worcester-North). Winter rainfall was considerably lower (-30%) in Worcester-East. Spring and summer rainfall was lower, but just before Christmas showers brought slight relief. Hardly any rain fell during the harvest, but the late red wine cultivars were slightly affected by rain towards the end of March. There was sufficient water for irrigation during the ripening period.

The spring temperatures, especially in November, were initially lower, followed by slightly warmer weather in the summer months. Particularly warm weather was experienced during the first part of December 2002 and February 2003, with maximum temperatures ranging between 35° and 41°C. 

Grape and wine quality
The healthy growing season necessitated very little spraying and resulted in healthy grapes being delivered to the cellars. After the March rainfall, some oidium was present.

The quality of the wines should be above average as a result of specialised attention to vineyards (foliage and irrigation management) as well as attentive vinification (cooler, reductive techniques). Investments in cellar technology and processing capacity are now paying off. On the whole the wines develop slightly later, but the balance between flavour and structure is excellent.

The early Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc show good flavour development. Chardonnay consistently produces above-average wines in Worcester.

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