Wine grape harvest 2018 nears its end with ‘smaller’ crop

Vinpros Francois Viljoen.

Wine grape producers and cellars will be taking in the last of a significantly smaller 2018 wine grape harvest.

According to SA Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS), viticulturists and cellars estimate that 2018 will record the smallest crop since 2005.

The fourth harvest estimate was performed mid-March, at which time close to two thirds of the harvest had been taken in by cellars.

“Nearly all white cultivars have been harvested, with a few late blocks being harvested in the next two weeks,” says Francois Viljoen, manager of the wine industry body Vinpro’s viticultural consultation service.

Shiraz and cabernet sauvignon are currently being harvested, of which shiraz is especially slow to ripen this year.

The harvest season was preceded and kicked off with very dry, hot weather conditions, after which February brought cooler nights, which is ideal for ripening and enhances quality.

According to Mr Viljoen, many regions will continue to harvest until mid-April, and the industry is hopeful that the weather conditions will hold and the grapes will be healthy.

The crop size will vary significantly between regions and even farms depending on individual production units’ access to water and other conditions.

“Some regions and producers report a larger than expected harvest, while others estimate that it will be even smaller than initially thought.

“Everyone agrees that the wine grape quality is good given the circumstances,” says Mr Viljoen.