2010 Wine grape Crop - Smaller than 2009 in all districts except Orange River

Monday, 14 December, 2009
The 2010 wine grape crop should amount to 1,319,246 tons, according to the crop estimate by the industry (producer cellars and viticultural consultants) on 27 November 2009.
This represents a decrease of 0.8 per cent compared to the 2009 crop. The 2010 wine grape crop, including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling wine, is expected to amount to 1 006,6 million litres, calculated at an average recovery of 763 litres per ton of grapes.

The only region estimated to have a bigger crop than in 2009 is the Orange River region. The estimate of a 30% crop increase for 2010 in the region is ascribed to a very favourable season so far. This should be viewed against the very small 2009 crop which was approximately 31% lower than in 2008.

In all other wine regions the crop is estimated to be lighter in a spring and early summer season described by producers and viticulturists as challenging. A late winter caused uneven budding and in some instances budding was delayed. Due to regular showers and at times heavy rainfall until November producers had to implement thorough and intensive control programmes, even so there are widespread crop losses due to downy mildew. Pressure from oidium is also high at the moment and pests such as snout beetles, long horn grasshoppers, snails, etc. have occurred. On two occasions a gale force southeaster and northwesterly wind have been responsible for damage to vines. Cold and windy conditions during the flowering and set periods have resulted in uneven and weak set.

Another reason for the anticipated decrease in crop size is the fact that total plantings have decreased by 821 ha since 2006.

Domestic sales of natural wine for the 12-month period November 2008 to October 2009 show that the market contracted by 5.7 per cent to 295 million litres, compared to the corresponding period the previous year. Brandy sales show an 8.8 per cent decrease during the same period. The export of packaged wine shows an increase of 9.4 per cent, while exports of bulk wine have decreased by 20 per cent.

The combination of the economic downturn, which has resulted in a decrease in sales, and the impact of the World Cup soccer tournament which should increase sales, suggests that domestic sales of both wine and brandy will more or less stand still in 2010.

The strong exchange rate, the economic turmoil in South Africa’s main export markets, the non-profitability of our wines in a key market such as the UK and the availability of the product will be determining factors in future wine exports and make sales forecasts almost impossible.

The stock level on 31 December 2010 at producer and private cellars is expected to decrease to 296.2 million litres, compared to 336.4 million litres on 31 December 2009.