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South Africa gearing up for “exceptional” 2020 vintage

Winemakers in South Africa are gearing up for an “exceptional” 2020 vintage, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa is gearing up for an “exceptional” 2020 harvest

The harvest will be smaller than the five-year average of 1.36 million tonnes, but is predicted to be larger than the 2019 harvest, which was impacted by drought.

Windy growing and ripening periods in certain regions resulted in smaller berries, which will lead to a good concentration of both colour and flavour, and wines of “exceptional quality”, according to Conrad Schutte of Vinpro.

The grape harvest is still taking place in eight of South Africa’s 10 wine regions thanks to a last-minute concession from the South African government to continue the harvest during the country’s Covid-19 lockdown.

Initially, all wine industry activities were prohibited, including the production, distribution and sale of alcohol from midnight on 26 March until midnight on 16 April 2020.

However, the government made a last-minute concession 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.

“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,” said Vinpro’s managing director, Rico Basson.

“However, the ban on exports and capacity constraints at our main ports will have a significant effect on the survival of the South African wine industry, and the livelihood of the 300,000 people employed by the value-chain,” he added.

Vinpro, SA Liquor Brand Owners Association and Wines of South Africa have put together an exporters task team to strengthen ongoing negotiations with the government. The official 2020 South African wine harvest peport will be issued on 5 May.

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