• South Africa expects exceptional 2020 vintage despite COVID-19 lockdown

    Intermediate harvest report South-Africa 2020
    South Africa’s 2020 wine grape crop is expected to yield exceptional wines.
    The industry is busy harvesting the last few thousand tonnes across eight of its 10 wine regions, thanks to a last-minute concession from the South African Government to continue harvest and winemaking activities during the country’s COVID-19 lockdown from 26 March until 16 April 2020.
    According to an estimate released by the industry body SAWIS (SA Wine Industry Information & Systems) in the third week of March, viticulturists and cellar producers expected the wine grape crop to be only somewhat larger than a small 2019 wine grape crop, but still smaller than the five year average of 1.36 million tonnes.

    “Although there is great variation in crop size due to the geographic distribution of the South African wine industry, the estimated crop size can in general be attributed to smaller berry sizes, the prevalence of botrytis rot and ongoing drought in certain areas,” says Conrad Schutte, manager of the wine industry body Vinpro’s viticultural consultation services.
    The occurrence of wind during the growing and ripening periods in certain regions contributed to smaller berries, which gave rise to lighter crops and lower juice recoveries. “Smaller berries also have greater flavour and colour concentrations, which will be reflected in exceptional quality in the wines,” Conrad says.
    While the ongoing drought in the Klein Karoo region still had a negative effect on the crops recovered in this region, the Olifants River region that was hit particularly hard by the drought in previous years, did surprisingly well thanks to moderate ripening conditions, adaptations in cultivation techniques and vineyards that have recovered better than expected.

    Harvest may continue, but sales banned
    When the South African Government published its COVID-19 lockdown regulations on 25 March 2020, all wine industry activities were prohibited, including the production, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages (which includes local sales and exports) from midnight on 26 March until midnight on 16 April 2020.
    However, through advocacy by various industry bodies, Government made a last-minute concession just hours before midnight on 26 March 2020 that “harvesting and storage activities essential to prevent the wastage of primary agricultural goods” would be regarded as essential services that may continue during the lockdown.

    Vinpro, the representative body for close to 2 500 South African wine grape producers, wineries and wine-related businesses, said that the industry is grateful to Government for the concession and called on its members to adhere to the regulations, including strict hygiene controls during transport and in the workplace, as well as ensuring that all staff members are in possession of the necessary permits to travel for work purposes.
    Meanwhile local sales, exports and the distribution of alcoholic beverages are still prohibited during the lockdown, including the delivery of online wine orders.
    “We have a full grasp of the severity of the global COVID-19 pandemic and support President Cyril Ramaphosa on his decision to take extreme measures to ensure the nation’s safety,” says Vinpro MD Rico Basson. “However, the ban on exports and capacity constraints at our main ports will especially have a significant effect on the survival of the South African wine industry, and more importantly, the livelihood of the close to 300 000 persons employed by the value-chain.”
    Around half of South Africa’s wine production is exported. Vinpro, SA Liquor Brand Owners Association (SALBA) and Wines of South Africa (WoSA) have put together an Exporters Task Team to strengthen ongoing deliberations with Government, which they hope to resolve before the weekend.

    Difficult times drive collaboration
    South African wine grape producers are innovative and have done a lot over the past few years to adapt to various difficult situations including changing weather patterns, a challenging economic climate and political uncertainty.
    The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has once again showed how the South African agricultural community has come together, determined to continue the harvest in difficult circumstances and with restrictions to bring in the last grapes for 2020
    “In these unusual conditions producers and agri-workers have set the example of what this Rainbow Nation embodies by acting swiftly to implement extra security measures and making sure they comply with the regulations as stipulated by Government,” Rico says.

    South Africa offers exceptional quality
    Despite a myriad of challenges the industry has faced, WoSA CEO, Siobhan Thompson says one of the most heartening elements for the South African wine industry has been the increased recognition the country has seen for the quality of its wines.
    Whether it be in ratings from the likes of Tim Atkin MW, or top scores from international competitions such as the International Wine & Spirit Competition and Decanter World Wine Awards, she says South African wines have consistently shown stylistic flair and exceptional quality which resonates with wine drinkers across the globe.
    “Our focus is still on the premiumisation of our wines, across the board,” Siobhan says. “While our offering is still extremely competitive in the global market place, our producers have realised that they have been underselling themselves and in order to level the playing field, we have had to increase our pricing to bring it in line with that of our competitors. We’ve upped our game in terms of quality and it is therefore only to be expected that our pricing needs to follow this trend.”
    While the COVID-19 outbreak may have major effects on not only the wine industry, but many others, there is likely to be a major shift in the way the industry does business. Virtual tastings may become the new normal as producers turn to online applications such as Zoom and Houseparty to engage with their importers, agents and even their consumers across the globe.
    Siobhan believes this will allow the South African wine industry to increase its reach and could potentially lead to a rise in new markets that have been previously unexplored. “We need to embrace this change and see the opportunity that lies ahead.”

    “As an industry, we have always remained positive, and will continue to do so, despite our current challenges. Once normality returns and we are back to business as usual, our producers will be ready to continue with the sale and promotion of South African wine and hopefully, in years to come, we will remember this period as one that gave us the time for introspection, to regroup and to come back even stronger than we were before,” Siobhan says.

    The official 2020 South African Wine Harvest Report will be issued on 5 May 2020.

    Source: Published with permission from WoSA

    Article from:https://vinexion.com

  • South Africa 2020 – Region of Wines 2020

    South Africa 2020 – Region of  Wines 2020


    South Africa’s 2020 wine grape crop will bring exceptional wines to consumers, following favourable conditions throughout the season.
    The 2020 wine grape crop is estimated at 1 349 883 tonnes, according to the latest estimate of industry body SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems) on 24 April 2020.
    It is 8.2% larger than the 2019 harvest.

    Weather conditions were favourable in general and the bunch numbers looked promising early in the season, but windy conditions during the set and sensitive berry growth stages resulted in smaller berries and a lighter crop. The season was also characterised by great variation between and even within the same vineyard blocks in areas that experienced dry conditions.

    The Stellenbosch, Swartland, Cape South Coast, Paarl and Breedekloof regions all harvested more wine grapes than in 2019, with the Olifants River region almost returning to its normal production levels after being one of the regions hardest hit by the recent drought. The Klein Karoo region still struggles with the ongoing drought, which was also experienced in certain parts of the Robertson region, while frost damage resulted in great crop losses in the Northern Cape.

    Although the harvesting season kicked off around two weeks earlier than usual, the unexpected announcement of the COVID-19 lockdown, in effect from 26 March 2020, created a scurry among many producers to harvest the last grapes of the season and complete winemaking processes in cellars. Wine-related activities were initially prohibited, but Government made a last-minute concession which allowed for the harvesting and storage activities essential to prevent the wastage of primary agricultural goods during the lockdown. At the time, around 40 000 tonnes still needed to be harvested.

    2019/20 GROWING SEASON
    Most regions experienced a better post-harvest period than previous years. The leaves fell around the same time or later than usual, vines were healthier and producers had access to post-harvest irrigation water.
    Sufficient cold units were accumulated during the winter to break dormancy, while rainfall varied across regions but was mostly below average.
    With spring came mostly favourable conditions, which contributed to a somewhat earlier but even bud-break. The early growing season was especially known for good, homogenous shoot growth.
    During summer, temperatures were moderate during the ripening period, with the absence of characteristic heat peaks. These conditions particularly bode well for the flavour retention in the grapes. Rainfall during the ripening period relieved pressure on water resources in some regions, while it resulted in a surge in diseases (downy mildew, sour rot and botrytis) and necessitated proper weed control in other areas.

    “Although it’s always important to take our diversity over ten wine grape growing regions into account, the industry had a very good season overall, which we believe will bring great quality wines to consumers,” says Conrad Schutte, consultation service manager of the wine industry’s representative body Vinpro.
    “We are excited about the exceptional wines that will flow from the 2020 wine grape crop, with Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay leading the pack,” Conrad says. “The early cultivars showed very good acidity, and the colour and tannin analyses in the red wines promise full wines with concentrated flavour profiles.”

    The 2020 wine harvest – including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling wine – is expected to amount to 1 046.2 million litres at an average recovery of 775 litres per ton of grapes.

    Following restrictions on both local sales and wine exports during South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown, the industry was relieved that Government allowed for the export of alcoholic products from 1 May 2020, including transport to ports and airports, as well as related activities to prepare wine for exports such as bottling and labelling.

    “As an industry we are grateful and relieved to be able to resume exports. This finally enables us to showcase our exceptional new 2020 vintage wines to trade, media and consumers around the world,” comments Siobhan Thompson, CEO of Wines of South Africa.

    She continues, “We would like to thank all of our international networks of agents, importers and friends who have never wavered in their support of our wine and our people, despite the challenges we’ve faced as an industry.”

    South Africa is the ninth biggest wine producer world-wide and produces about 3.3% of the world’s wine. The wine industry more than R36 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs nearly 300 000 people.


    Slightly larger crop than in 2019, however the occurrence of wind during berry growth had a negative effect on flowering and set in some areas.

    Better yields than the previous season, thanks to favourable climatic conditions, the implementation of Guyot pruning systems, utilisation of chemicals to break dormancy and amendments to fertilisation programmes.

    Yet another small crop due to the ongoing drought and a shrinking area under vines.

    Lower than expected production, due to severe frost experienced at the end of October in the lower lying areas east of Upington.

    A great year as vines are recovering well following the drought and the region had better water supplies than during the previous season.

    A better crop than in 2019, owing to beneficial post-harvest conditions, sufficient water for irrigation and moderate temperatures during ripening.

    Smaller yields due to water shortages in certain parts of the region, as well as smaller berries caused by wind during set, a decline in new plantings and the occurrence of botrytis and sour rot following rain in January.

    A bigger wine grape crop than in 2019, thanks to good reserves being accumulated in the post- harvest period, rain during critical berry growth stages and moderate climate throughout the growing season.

    Bigger yields than in 2019, characterised by good bunch figures thanks to good post-harvest and winter conditions. Soil profiles were also supplemented well through late winter rainfall.

    Varying yields throughout the region, with producers recording a somewhat larger crop than in 2019.

    Source: Published with permission from WoSA


    ISSUED by:
    SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems)
    WoSA (Wines of South Africa)

  • Northen Cape 2020

    Northern Cape 2020



    “The Northern Cape region experienced an average 2020 season in terms of yields per hectare and was characterised by good quality wines produced at acceptable volumes in the cellar,” says Henning Burger, viticulturist at Orange River Cellars.

    The harvest season kicked off at least seven days earlier but continued without an exceptional peak. The region was grateful for a good and blessed year, despite problems with ESCOM’s electricity supply during the mid-peak period.

    Almost the entire 2020 harvest was taken in before the COVID-19 lockdown on 26 March 2020, although the lockdown had an impact on the remaining processes in the cellar. However, these challenges were overcome by good management and hard work by the wine-makers to attend to the wines with the minimal help.


    Orange River Cellars – that harvests the majority of the region’s grapes – produced a somewhat smaller harvest than in 2019. This was partly due to frost damage which occurred towards the end of October 2019. The 2019 harvest was also exceptionally good. All wine grape cultivars produced lower yields per hectare than in 2019.


    The vineyards in the Northern Cape region were healthy during the post-harvest period with no occurrence of diseases. The warm temperature continued until late in May, which resulted particularly in limited regrowth of vigorous blocks. The first real frost only occurred late in May this year. Vineyards were also pruned at least two weeks later than usual.

    The number of cold units which were accumulate by June, were significantly lower than the corresponding time in 2018. The total cold units for the entire winter period until the end of August were also lower than in the previous year. It was evident after leaf fall and during the pruning stage that grape bearing shoots ripened optimally and were available in sufficient amounts for the use in cultivars pruned with long-bearers. It was cold until the end of August with day and night temperatures starting to increase gradually from the beginning of September.

    The vineyards started budding from 7 September – around five to seven days earlier than the previous season. This tendency was partly driven by warm day and night temperatures during the first half of September. At times the temperatures dropped suddenly and increased again gradually as required by the many cold fronts that occurred during September throughout the Western Cape.
    The vineyards had even bud burst and mostly all cultivars showed a good budding percentage. The bunches were abundant which brought on a positive prospect for a good 2020 harvest. However, wide-spread frost damage occurred at the end of October – in particular in the low-situated vineyards, east of Upington.

    The vineyards were healthy and vigorous until the end of January, despite more than 75 mm of rain that occurred during mid-December in the Upington area. However, regular wide-spread rain during February resulted in rot and also resulted in limited crop losses.
    Fortunately the region didn’t have any water shortages during the 2020 season, since the dam systems in the Orange-Vaal System were filled up more than 70%.

    The quality of the grapes was excellent, with good acidity and pH levels up until the end of February. Unfortunately the regular rainfall during this month resulted in uneven quality due to rot.

    Healthy grapes which were produced under good, more moderate climate conditions and lower yields than in the 2019 season, are reflected in beautifully balanced wines. The colour development in the red cultivars was consistently good as a result of the lower than normal temperatures which occurred during phase 2 of the berry development cycle.

    The alcohol levels were higher than the previous year – partly ascribed to the increase in sugar grading for white wine grapes as well as the fact that the harvest was smaller this year than in 2019. Juice recoveries were consistently good at all the cellars, with an average recovery of 785 litres per ton. Both early Chenin Blanc and Colombar grapes that were received and processed in 2020, are showing excellent quality.

    Source: https://vinpro.co.za


    Published with permission from WoSA

  • Paarl Region -South Africa

    2019 Harvest Report Paarl, South Africa

    From mid-May untill the end of June the combination of good rainfall and cold weather were sufficient to meet the vines needs. July on the other hand was warm and had little rainfall, which led to early bud burst. During August and September, there was plenty of rainfall which replenished water storage and farm dams. The cold and wet conditions however slowed the shoot growth. Gale winds and a cold front in October led to poor berry set especially in higher regions. During January the temperature was lower and the harvest started on time, in the end temperatures rose however and the harvest pace had to be increased. Regular rain showers and cooler weather during February caused lots of grapes to reach sugar levels at a slow pace. A lot of uneven patterns were seen.

    The 2019 harvest is bigger than the 2018 harvest, but it is still lower than the 5-year average. The yields of sauvignon blanc were exeptionally small, while the yields of chenin blanc and pinotage were bigger.

    In regard to the quality of the wines: the analyses were promising at the beginning of the harvesting season, but then pH levels suddenly rose during the second half. Titratable acidity levels were therefore very high. Malic acid levels remained stable. Furthermore, colours and tanines are looking good. Therefore, good quality wines can be expected in particular the sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc and pinotage.

    Website https://www.wineland.co.za
  • Stellenbosch Harvest Report 2020

    Stellenbosch Region

    “The Stellenbosch region is expecting excellent wines with good quality from a bigger wine grape harvest,” says Etienne Terblanche, Vinpro’s viticulturist for the Stellenbosch and Cape South Coast regions.
    The moderate growth season as well as the seasonal rainfall at the start of the 2020 harvest, laid the foundation for a good season. The early cultivars are showing good acidity and sugar levels, whereas the later cultivars delivered wines with good concentrations, structure and desired alcohol levels.

    “Stellenbosch producers can celebrate and be proud of the 2020 harvest with regards to both the crop size and quality in the cellar, despite obvious challenges and pressures because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Etienne.

    Producers in the Stellenbosch region had a significant improvement in their productions, as opposed to the relatively small harvest in 2019. The bigger yields are mainly ascribed to a favourable, wet post- harvest period, sufficient winter cold and a moderate growth season.

    The good winter cold was particularly favourable for sensitive cultivars such as Chardonnay and Shiraz, having had a positive impact with regards to budding percentages which led to a bigger harvest. Cultivars which would normally be harvested in die middle of the season, had good flowering and berry set conditions in particular. Merlot especially produced high yields, whereas Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc delivered average yields. Late cultivars such as Cabernet Sauvignon showed a conservative improvement with regards to yields, although berry dehydration occurred specifically in this cultivar, which might have a negative impact on the yields.

    Good rainfall during the harvest and post-harvest season replenished soil profiles during this crucial time of reserve accumulation. Post-harvest irrigation was not necessary in some cases. The overall leaf fall was significantly later than in the preceding dry year. However, certain vineyards were not able to effectively accumulate reserves due to fungal diseases as a result of the moist weather conditions and this resulted in premature leaf fall. Environmental conditions as well as autumn temperatures were of such a nature that no significant regrowth took place that could subsequently limit the reserves. Early dormancy temperatures were significantly lower than in the previous season.

    The winter rainfall was lower compared to the 2019 season, but still higher than during the drought of 2016 to 2018. The rainfall was average during most of the winter months, apart from a particularly low rainfall during August. Cold units started accumulating about six weeks earlier than in the previous year and it was particularly distinctive in the way in which the cold units virtually accumulated uninterruptedly until early in August this year – as opposed to the typical warm periods that were recorded during the winter time over the past few years and resulted in various challenges. However, the temperatures gradually increased during August and some of the early cultivars had bud burst up to two weeks prior to the average budding dates.

    An exceptionally warm and dry spring resulted in good, even bud burst of early and mid-seasonal cultivars, after sufficient winter cold. The soil temperatures are usually low in cooler and wet spring conditions, which could result in delayed and uneven growth. However, this wasn’t the case this year. Cultivars such as Chardonnay and Shiraz initially showed excellent and even growth, mainly due to good spring temperatures and improved root activity.

    The temperatures during the flowering and berry set period were average, with significantly less fluctuations than in the previous season. Good rainfall measured at around 100 mm and even more towards the end of October was crucial to replenish the dry soil profiles and to lay the foundation for good and stress-free flowering and berry set conditions. Early and mid-cultivars exceeded expectations with regards to berry set as a result of these conditions, whereas late cultivars such as Cabernet Sauvignon had to develop berry set in cooler conditions, which in turn resulted in normal berry set.

    The growth season was characterised by sustained, moderate to cool day temperatures, combined with significant wind. Cool, windy conditions prevailed from November to December, with the exception of a short, warm period early in December which led to sunburn damage on susceptible cultivars. These cool conditions during the cell enlargement and division phase of the berries possibly led to smaller berry sizes, despite relatively low water stress. The region experienced gale-force winds above 90 km/h which caused damage particularly to thin canopies and some bunches. The vineyards in the mountain region were affected the most.

    The 2020 harvest period was characterised by typical dry conditions and moderate temperatures. Carry-over effects from the heat during spring and effective canopies promoted ripening in the early cultivars and were therefore harvested much earlier. Sustained, moderate temperatures occurred until the end of March and resulted in effective plant functioning and full maturity in late cultivars.

    Cover crops were well established and have particularly accumulated good biomass during August, during which the region experienced higher temperatures. This ensured effective weed suppression. Historic problem areas will maintain a high population of snails, although they were less of a problem due to a drier spring.

    Fungal disease pressure was relatively high after the good rainfall during October and various generations of downy mildew were present from the flowering and berry set stage to late summer. Producers who didn’t modify their spraying programmes and frequency thereof experienced both crop losses (wilting of flower bunches) as well as effective canopies loss. Pinotage and Merlot were particularly affected by this.

    Mealy bug, weevil and katydid outbreaks were somewhat higher than in the previous season, although it was still under control. The growth season was characterised by good, even shoot growth which resulted in excellent canopies with sufficient capacity to ripen the crops.

    Seasonal rainfall during the growth season as well as moderate temperatures resulted in good vigour, whereas the high wind speeds towards the end of the summer kept the vigour and berry sizes under control.

    The early cultivars were harvested up to two weeks earlier than usual. However, the ripening pace slowed down towards the end of the harvest season and late cultivars were harvested at the normal time, due to the cooler temperatures and significant load. The bigger harvest and accelerated maturation placed some pressure on cellar space halfway into the harvest period.

    Early indications of the wine quality are looking promising. Grape analyses of the early cultivars generally showed higher acidity levels, thus resulting in less addition than the normal amount of acidity at the cellars. Chenin Blanc stood out particularly.

    Wine laboratories confirmed normal yeast assimilable nitrogen (YAN) values, which could be ascribed to good, healthy canopies as well as effective irrigation scheduling and fertilisation programmes. Colour and tannin analyses of the red wines are appearing to be much better than in 2019 and the producers are expecting full-bodied wines with intensive flavour profiles.

    Average to below-average juice recoveries were reached due to relatively small berry sizes.

    Article from Vinexion.com

    Source: https://vinpro.co.za
    Published with permission from WoSA

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