JOHANNESBURG –This Year’s grape harvest may be smaller than last year's, according to the latest survey from the wine industry body SA Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis) released yesterday. 

The South African wine industry body, Vinpro, which represents about 3500 local wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders, stated in January that the 2019 wine grape crop was expected to be the smallest since 2005. 

Sawis, which surveyed producer cellars and Vinpro viticulturists, found that with close to two thirds of the 2019 wine grape harvest already in cellars, the most recent estimate indicates that the harvest might at this stage be smaller than in 2018 - a year in which the Western Cape was affected most severely by a three-year drought. 

“The berries and bunches are smaller, lighter and less dense than usual,” said Francois Viljoen, the manager of Vinpro’s viticulture consultation service. 

“This trend can be attributed to unfavourable weather conditions during flowering and set in October and November, as well as above average winds experienced at the start of summer.” 

Many vineyards, especially dryland vineyards, had not yet fully recovered from the effect of the three-year drought, and the drought even continued in the Klein Karoo region during 2018. The official 2019 Wine Harvest Report will be issued on May 7, 2019.