South African wine producers expect a good and somewhat larger 2024 grape crop compared to the relatively small harvest of this year, according to the first of four wine crop estimates issued annually by viticulturists and producer cellars.
This estimate, however, was still lower than the average harvests of the past 10 years.
South Africa Wine said that cool and wet conditions characterised the post-harvest period and provided welcome relief during the recovery of vines after the harvest.
The lower crop load of last year, the early completion of the harvest and sufficient water availability positively contributed to vineyard reserves to start the winter on a good footing, it said.
Etienne Terblanche, manager of Vinpro's team of viticulture experts who issued the harvest estimates together with the industry body, SAWIS, said the positive impact of climatic conditions leading up to the harvest outweighed the limiting factors, despite the continuing declining trend in the national area under vines, which currently stands at 89 384 hectares.
“The potential impact of load shedding will only become apparent closer to harvest time and is being closely monitored. If environmental conditions play out as predicted and producers adapt management practices accordingly, a good quality harvest can be expected,” Terblanche said.
Rico Basson, South Africa Wine CEO said the wine industry was repositioning to overcome various challenges on the one hand, but also to ensure sustainable growth and investment.
“Measured against some of our competitors, our wine industry is excellently placed to overcome challenges and with a focused approach can unlock value growth in the tourism, local and international markets which relieves financial pressure at farm level,” Basson said.
The Cape’s wine growing areas experienced an excellent winter, characterised by low temperatures and an above-average rainfall that brought soil profiles and storage dams up to capacity.
This was especially welcomed in dryland areas such as Cape Town and Swartland, while brackish soils in the drier cultivation regions such as the Klein Karoo and Olifants River benefited from the leaching of salts.
Spring was action-packed. Frost damage to low-lying Chenin Blanc and Colombar, especially in the Breedekloof and Worcester region, had producers worried, but given the early nature of the damage, vineyards were able to recover to some extent through fertile secondary buds and late pruning actions.
Cool and wet conditions continued with heavy downpours and gusty winds at the end of September, where vineyards on riverbanks were hit hardest by the floodwaters.
The soil conditions, mud that stuck to leaves after the storms, high humidity, and limited access to vineyards due to the wet soil conditions, resulted in downy mildew in some vineyards.
Meanwhile, Ardagh Glass Packaging-Africa (AGP-Africa) announced the heat-up of the N3 furnace at its Nigel production facility in Gauteng, South Africa last week.
This was the delivery of another R1.5 billion mega-project, within budget and on time in just over 12 months from approval, is a great achievement by all involved.
The company had seen a decline in decline in demand for glass packaging in the past 12 months, mostly due to changes in packaging formats in the beer industry and a large decline in the wine industry in the Western Cape.
In line with its commitment to fiscal discipline, the company has responded timeously by mothballing older furnaces in Gauteng and the Western Cape in particular, where stocks of wine had reached excessive levels.
Paul Curnow, CEO of AGP-Africa said at the time, while demand has been disappointing, it was normal for their industry to go through cycles where capacity exceeded installed demand and their facilities needed to operate below name-plate capacity for periods of time.
The early summer was characterised by moderate temperatures and below-average precipitation. It stimulated active growth and aided flowering and set for most cultivars. Strong winds in coastal areas such as Stellenbosch had a limiting impact on the set of late cultivars such as Cabernet Sauvignon, but a positive impact of groundwater reserves on berry size was expected.