Although wine grape producers and cellars in South Africa are positive about the quality of wines pressed from the 2018 harvest, challenging conditions have resulted in the smallest crops produced in more than a decade.
VinPro, a leading wine industry body, has released a report which concludes that the 2018 yield, which comes to 1 220 920 tonnes, is 15% smaller than that of 2017.
“The 2018 harvest season was really challenging, due to a prolonged drought which some believe to be the worst in 100 years, and accompanied by water restrictions and frost damage in some areas,” said Francois Viljoen, manager of VinPro’s viticultural consultation service.
All regions except the Breedekloof area reported a smaller wine grape crop, while the Olifants River region was hit hardest due to a water allocation amounting to only 20% the region’s normal allowance from the Clanwilliam Dam. In addition to water shortages, some vines in the Breedekloof, Worcester and Robertson areas were affected by frost damage in September and October 2017.
Surprisingly, the Northern Cape region, where water supply was sufficient, also experienced a decrease in production after vines recovered poorly from frost damage earlier in the season.
The harvest season’s dry weather, did have its advantages – vines were healthier than usual, with little interference from pests and disease being reported.
South Africa is the world’s eighth largest wine producer, meaning that 4% of the world’s wine is produced here, and contributes R36-million to the country’s GDP.
As the country’s wine industry is operating with 170-million litres less wine than it did last year, this will put strain on stock levels, thus increasing the price of wine.
The Bureau for Economic Research (BER) and the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) predict that the area under wine grapes will be around 10% smaller, at 85 000 hectares by 2022 compared to 2018, production will amount to 1.3-million tonnes and the industry will have a deficit of 120-million litres of wine.
The average price of bulk wine is expected to increase by approximately 15% in the next year, and will result in significant pressure on wine retail prices.
Consumers can expect to pay between 8% and 11% more for their favorite bottle of wine this year.