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2019 harvest ‘promising’ but South Africa will take time to recover from drought

South Africa’s harvest is shaping up to be “promising” wine industry body VinPro has confirmed, but vineyards will take some time to recover from the droughts of 2017-18.

Speaking at the organisation’s annual information day, VinPro’s manager of viticultural consultation service Francois Viljoen told 900 delegates from the South African wine industry that the 2019 crop was likely to be an improvement on recent years, despite the challenging fruit set in October which is likely to affect the size of the crop.

VinPro tweeted that the 2019 vintage was looking positive and promising, on the back of cooler conditions – but the quality would depend on the weather over the next few weeks.

“We’re expecting average to lower yields and generally healthy grapes,” it tweeted from the conference.

The 2017/18 season was one of the most challenging seasons yet, it tweeted and vineyards will take some time to recover from drought. Furthermore the drought had a ‘ripple’ effect, and there was a lot of uneven fruit setting in South Africa’s vineyards, with warm spells during winter causing uneven bud-break and disturbing ‘light-sleeping’ varieties such as Shiraz and Chardonnay.

“The 2017/18 season forever changed our frame of reference about our water resources and way of thinking about water in general” VinPro tweeted

2019 crop estimates

Northern cape: Looking in the vineyard: no water limitations; no mentionable frost damages but also no big winegrape planting in a few years – so a better crop is expected this year.

Olifants River: There will be a huge carry-over effect: but a better water situation and healthy conditions promise a far better situation this year

Swartland: A carry-over effect on the dryland vineyards; a lot of uprootings in the region, bad fruitset but an improved water situation will lead to a better crop than in 2018

Paarl: generally a far better water situation in the Bergrivier irrigation area at this time offering better prospects for a bigger harvest

Stellenbosch: shrinking hectare/low plantings; carry-over effect and the bad and uneven fruitset are the main reasons for the lighter crop expectations

Cape South Coast: here we expect more or less the same crop as last year for the same reasons as for the Stellenbosch region

Klein Karoo: In the eastern part of this region the drought continues but in the Montagu region things are looking better with the scheme irrigation water. So they are expecting a slightly better crop

Robertson: although the plantings in this region have been good, there are still farms that have water issues and with the carry-over effect and bad fruitset, a similar crop to last year is expected at this stage.

Worcester: A better water situation; less frost damage this year with a number of young vineyards that will come into production and healthy conditions at this stage – led to the better crop expectations.

“Overall we are expecting a slightly better crop than last year because we are still feeling the carry-over effect of the last three year’s drought”, VinPro tweeted.

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