Challenging conditions led to a reduced wine grape crop for South African producers in 2016, but grapes were healthy and concentrated flavours promise good wines, reads the SA Wine Harvest Report for 2016.
The total wine grape crop is expected to be 6,7% smaller than in 2015. “Although the crop is smaller, the industry still managed to reach higher production than initially expected following a season characterised by abnormal heat and water shortages,” says Francois Viljoen, manager of VinPro’s viticulture consultation service.
Water supplies had a great impact on the harvest this year, especially in instances where vineyards were not buffered against the heat. Regions such as Robertson and the Klein Karoo, which received sufficient winter rainfall, had higher production, while Worcester also obtained a bigger harvest. Most of the other regions produced smaller crops, but yields in Stellenbosch and the two dryland regions Paarl and Swartland were much lower than in 2015.
The weather was very hot, especially from the end of October towards the end of January, which restricted the growth and constituted lower bunch masses and smaller berries. However, the dry conditions led to the vineyards and grapes being very healthy overall. Smaller berries led to more concentrated colour and flavour on the positive side and good wines are expected from the 2016 harvest.
The 2016 wine grape crop is estimated at 1 378 596 tons according to the latest estimate (30 April 2016) of the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis). This is 6,7% lower than in 2015.
The 2016 wine harvest – juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling wine included – is expected to amount to 1 070,8 million litres, calculated at an average recovery of 777 litres per ton of grapes.
Overview of the regions
Breedekloof: A slightly smaller crop than in 2015, but still above-average in size and of good quality.
Klein Karoo: A cold, wet winter and a warm, dry summer leading to a big and healthy crop.
Malmesbury/Swartland: A significantly smaller crop was taken in early and over a short period.
Olifants River: Despite challenging climate conditions and a significantly smaller crop, good quality wines are expected.
Orange River: A somewhat smaller crop with great variations in yields between producers.
Paarl: An abnormally small crop of which the cultivars all ripened early and simultaneously.
Robertson: Ideal seasonal conditions led to a bigger crop and promising wines.
Stellenbosch: A significantly smaller crop due to dry, hot weather conditions and veld fires.
Worcester: A bigger harvest than in 2015, despite limited water, unusual heat and veld fires. -Vinpro