Following a smaller harvest in 2023, wine grape producers are positive that the season on hand holds great promise. Ideal winter conditions and above-average rainfall across all cultivation regions set the scene for a promising 2024 harvest. This is according to harvest predictions compiled by the industry bodies Vinpro and SAWIS.
“Despite a series of challenging climatic events faced by some producers, a spirit of optimism can be observed at this early stage,” says Etienne Terblanche, head of consultation services at Vinpro. “Good decision-making and agility will however be crucial to harness the full potential of the season.”
Cool, wet conditions that prevailed throughout the 2023 harvest continued into autumn. These conditions brought much-needed relief during the critical period when vines were recovering after the harvest.
Within the context of climate change, rising winter temperatures and sporadic warm periods during winter often pose challenges for vine physiology. Contrary to this trend, however, the South African cultivation regions experienced an excellent winter season characterised by sustained low temperatures and above-average rainfall. High precipitation in June filled soil profiles, smaller farm dams and larger catchment dams to capacity as the winter season started. Low temperatures ensured effective accumulation of cold units and all observations confirm that the vines satisfied their cold requirement early in the winter. Coastal areas, traditionally known for their moderate winter temperatures, also accumulated sufficient cold units.
Spring arrived early, with the first bud break occurring two weeks earlier than the previous season. Budding percentages (number of buds emerging) were consistently high and particularly even – which is testament to the excellent winter conditions. Cool and wet conditions prevailed for the remainder of spring.
“Torrential downpours and strong winds at the end of September and accompanying floods damaged infrastructure and made vineyards on riverbanks impassable,” Terblanche said. “The extent of damage and impact on productions will only become clear later in the season, but we are acutely aware that some regions were impacted much more than others.”
“Despite the expected limiting impact of the ever-decreasing national vineyard surface area, isolated cases of frost and extensive flood damage in some of our regions, we remain optimistic about the new season’s potential,” says Rico Basson, South Africa Wine CEO. “Continuous innovation at farm level in combination with excellent conditions during winter could tip the scales in favour of the producer in 2024. Informed decision-making and agility to harness the full potential of the season are now of key importance.
“South Africa Wine is working closely together with producers, organised agriculture and Government to ensure advice, assistance and coordination. We are very grateful to the Western Cape Department of Agriculture which deployed a flood mobile app on 26 September to assess initial flood damage. Currently, a ground assessment of various districts is underway, and it is anticipated that the verification assessments will take place during the last week of October. Producers are encouraged to complete the survey here.”
The first harvest estimate by viticulturists and producer cellars will be released in December 2023.
South Africa Wine
Communications and Brand Manager: South Africa Wine
Tel: 021 276 0458