2019 Grape Harvest in South Africa Hits Record Low

The 2019 wine grape harvest in South Africa is expected to hit its lowest level since 2005 caused by the after-effects of a three-year drought, industry body VinPro has reported.

According to estimates from trade organisation SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information and Systems) published by VinPro, the 2019 South African grape crop is predicted to total 1,225,620 tonnes. This is down by 1.4% on the total recorded last year and is the lowest harvest since 2005 when a total of 1,171,632 tonnes of grapes were taken in.

This is the second consecutive year in which the South African wine grape harvest volume has fallen.

While the 2018-19 season recorded good rainfall, the impact of the preceding three years of drought was evident. It is expected that vineyards and soils in certain regions will take some time to recover from the prolonged dry spell.

In 2018, South Africa produced 9.5mhl of wine, down by 1.4 mhl compared with the 2017 total, according to the OIV. This placed the country ninth in terms of world production, behind Italy (54.8mhl), France (49.1mhl), Spain (44.4mhl), the US (23.9mhl), Argentina (14.5mhl), Chile (12.9mhl), Australia (12.9mhl) and Germany (9.8mhl).

Fluctuating weather conditions throughout the season, together with lingering drought at the end of the previous season, are said to be the reason for the low harvest volumes predicted for 2019. The country experienced uneven weather patterns during budbreak and flowering followed by cool and windy conditions during fruit set, leading to fewer bunches and smaller berries. Rain showers during this period also led to crop losses due to outbreaks of diseases such as downy mildew.

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