The Squeaky Barrel Vol. 5 - Black Elephant Vintners

The Squeaky Barrel Vol. 5

20 February 2024

OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK DESPITE CHALLENGES: SECOND ESTIMATE FOR 2024 WINE GRAPE HARVEST RELEASED

Viticulture experts have submitted their second estimate for the anticipated 2024 wine grape harvest, offering a comprehensive overview of the current state of South Africa’s vineyards. The figures, adjusted to account for the impact of diverse weather conditions during the growing season, reveal an estimated national wine grape harvest marginally down on the first estimate but higher than the 2023 harvest.

“While this estimate reflects a marginal 1.2% decrease from the initial December estimate, it remains notably higher than the 2023 harvest. Despite the slight reduction, the current projection for 2024 still falls below the five-year average,” says Etienne Terblanche, head of consultation services at Vinpro.

Most wine-growing regions benefited from an excellent winter characterised by low temperatures, positively impacting vineyard winter rest. Above-average rainfall during winter replenished dams and groundwater reserves.

Spring brought challenges, with significant frost damage in Chenin Blanc and Colombar in the Worcester/Breedekloof areas. Excessive rainfall and floods, particularly in the Olifants River region, posed challenges, leading to high fungal disease pressure.

A drastic shift in conditions at the beginning of summer impacted vineyard response. Moderate to warm conditions and good groundwater status promoted growth, but downy mildew pressure was high, especially in the Paarl and Wellington areas.

Hot and windy conditions in coastal areas like Stellenbosch, Cape Town, and Swartland during flowering and fruit set limited crop size. Late summer rains in the Cape South Coast, Robertson, and the Klein Karoo were, however, beneficial.

Production in the Orange River area is on track for recovery despite localised hail damage during the festive period. Late summer rains in this irrigated area are viewed positively.

“Initial feedback suggests an earlier and lighter harvest for early cultivars like Chardonnay, possibly influenced by the prolonged cool spring conditions. Mid-season cultivars like Pinotage, Shiraz, and Merlot show promise for a reasonable harvest,” says Terblanche. “Changes in critical environmental conditions and water availability will impact the final ripening phase. Vineyard response will be closely monitored to inform the next round of estimates in February.”

“The larger crop combined with grape quality is great news as we enter 2024 and bodes well for our continued focus on consumers and growth markets,” South Africa Wine CEO Rico Basson concluded.

Until next time.

The South Africa Wine team

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