Larger wine harvest 2012 expected

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The wine industry is positive that a good growing season will yield a larger harvest, despite a decline in the area under vines in recent years.
This according to VinPro’s viticulturists in a preliminary Seasonal Overview and Harvest Expectations report released in collaboration with Sawis.

Following a cold winter and moderate to warm spring with good, even budding, VinPro’s team of regional viticulturists are optimistic that the harvest would be larger than the 2011 harvest. Yields of five to 10% larger than the 2011 harvest are anticipated for most regions.

The area under grape vines has shrunk by more than 1 000 ha since 2006 to 101 016 ha at the end of 2010. With the reduced number of vines producing smaller yields, the wine industry has since 2005 not been able to keep up with the required annual replacement of 5% (5 000 ha) vines. An increasing percentage of older vineyards can therefore also have a negative impact on production in the long term. Although some districts have managed to plant more vines than uprooting in 2010, the positive effect of this will not be felt yet.

In general, the winter was colder than in previous years – which is beneficial to suspend dormancy – with parts of the Orange River district accumulating up to twice as many cold units as the winter of 2010.

Klein Karoo and Robertson had exceptionally high rainfall levels, while districts such as Paarl, Stellenbosch and Malmesbury had a very dry winter. Available irrigation or further rainfall will still have an impact on the final volume of the 2012 harvest.

“We’ve had ideal spring weather conditions throughout the industry up to now with good shoot growth, even budding and promising flower cluster numbers and sizes. The vineyards are very healthy in general, with no visible fungal diseases, however snails and snout beetles did cause damage in some areas,” said Francois Viljoen, manager of the VinPro Consultation Service.

The cold, rainy conditions that prevailed in the Western Cape over the past month had an effect on the flowering and set of wine grapes, the extent of which on the harvest cannot be accurately determined at this stage. Climatic conditions until January can still have a significant impact on the eventual harvest.

The Orange River district is expected to bounce back with a 25% increase following flood damage and a substantially smaller harvest in 2011, to reach its normal production levels. Malmesbury and Stellenbosch are exceptions, where average or even smaller harvests are forecast.

An up to date harvest estimate is to be released by Sawis on 9 December 2011.

For further information contact Francois Viljoen on +27 (0)21 807 3033 or e-mail viljoenf@vinpro.co.za.