Marginal increase in harvest brings some respite to wine exporters

A marginally higher than expected grape harvest is good news for wine exporters – who are also positive about the quality of wines from the 2018 harvest.

According to Vinpro’s viticultural consultation service manager, Francois Viljoen, the 2018 harvest is pegged at over 1.2 million tonnes, and although it is 15% smaller than in 2017, it was initially expected to be even smaller.

Wines of South Africa CEO, Siobhan Thompson, told FTW Online that the effect of the decline in wine exports was difficult to estimate - and would probably only be seen in the last quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019.

“It is likely that there will be less bulk wine to export so it is therefore likely that bulk exports will decline. But the percentage is difficult to gauge at this stage,” she said. “It may be around 10%, as a guesstimate.”

This, she pointed out, would lead to a loss in revenue from exports which was equally difficult to determine as it depended on the mix of what was being exported – packaged versus bulk wine.

Thompson said that while South Africa would not be able to meet the demand for its wines this season, the quality of the wines would be good.

This as a result of the varying conditions – such as the drought, water restrictions and frost damage – leading to much smaller than usual berries and affecting total tonnage as well.

“Smaller berries usually have good colour and flavour intensity and this, along with cooler weather during harvest time, relieved some pressure on vines and bodes well for quality,” added Viljoen.

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