The South African wine industry has harvested nearly half of what is expected to be a very promising 2015 wine grape crop.
According to regional viticulturists of VinPro – the representative organisation for close to 3 500 wine grape producers and cellars – the harvest kicked off two weeks earlier than normal.
“This was the earliest harvest in decades, partially due to a warmer than usual August, followed by a hot, dry and very windy summer, which required additional irrigation. However, ideal, dry conditions during harvest time ensured healthy grapes with minimal occurrence of disease or rot,” said Francois Viljoen, manager of VinPro’s Consultation Service.
Cellars in most regions have already received Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Chardonnay, with Sauvignon Blanc gradually ripening and Merlot being harvested in the next two weeks.
A large tonnage of wine grapes was harvested over a short time period in Stellenbosch, placing pressure on cellar space at some cellars; however cooler weather in February brought relief as ripening slowed down somewhat. Although the Little Karoo started harvesting even more than two weeks earlier than normal in some areas, only 15% of the total expected crop has been harvested up to date, as this region cultivates much less of the traditional early cultivars.
A break in the channel supplying water from Clanwilliam dam to the Olifants River area resulted in water shortages for a week during January; however effective management has thus far resulted in minimal losses.
On average, a lighter wine grape harvest than the bumper 2014 crop is expected, and the viticulturists are positive about exceptional colour and flavour in both white and red wines. All cultivars that have been harvested thus far show great promise in terms of quality – specifically Sauvignon Blanc and Pinotage. In Paarl and Malmesbury smaller berries in especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc are indicative of good quality, and in Stellenbosch Pinot Noir and Chardonnay stand out.
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