As harvesting begins, your favourite red or white wine might be in short supply this year - Torsten Dettlaff

The South African wine industry has reached a challenging stage in the harvest season due to the continuing drought and low water supplies in the Western Cape.

According to the industry body the SA Wine Industry Information & Systems (SAWIS) a second crop estimate of the South African wine grape harvest in the second week of January predicts an even smaller harvest than previous estimates at the end of November 2017 – possibly the smallest since 2005.

Francois Viljoen, consultation service manager for the wine industry organisation Vinpro says the declining trend predicted in the past two months can be mainly attributed to the warm and dry weather conditions that occurred early December. “Virtually no rain fell during this period and many hot days (above 35 °C) were recorded. Together with a persistent south-easterly wind, this increased the water consumption of vineyards.”

RELATED: A selection of the best fine wines for 2018

So how does this impact on your favourite wine?

“This available water is simply not enough to meet the needs of the vineyards at this stage,” says Viljoen. 

“Vineyards are now beginning to show symptoms of water shortage and declining berry growth. Smaller berries mean a lighter harvest with lower juice levels which contribute to lower volumes.”

The lack of rain, shrinking water supplies and continual hot days can further lead to a smaller 2018 crop.

The South African wine industry is the ninth largest producer of wine in the world and contributes 4% to global production. 

South Africa exports 440 million litres of wine annually and sells 400 million litres locally.

But with no rain on the horizon you might have to go on a bit of a treasure hunt soon for your favourite red or white wine and pay a little bit more for the pleasure as well.

RELATED: Seven ways the wine world will change in 2018