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South Africa harvest at record high

Wine production in South Africa is expected to reach an all-time high this year after the 2013 grape harvest outstripped expectations to reach nearly 1.5m tons.

Overcoming a late and slow start to the growing season, every region except Robertson registered an increase on the 2012 crop, with Olifants River, Breedekloof and Worcester set to break records.

According to estimates from SA Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis), the 2013 wine grape crop is expected to rise 5.4% on 2012 to 1.49m tons, 4.6% up on the previous record year, 2008.

The wine harvest, which includes juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, brandy wine and wine for distillation, will be just over 1.15m litres, Sawis calculated.

A prolonged winter and cool spring delayed budburst and led to a later harvest for early-ripening varietals, but a dry and warm December concentrated picking times, creating ‘immense pressure’ on winery capacity.

‘Producers, viticulturists and winemakers are excited about a promising crop in terms of quality,’ said wine producers’ association VinPro.

‘The moderate harvest season contributed to intense colour, exceptional flavour and good structure in the red cultivars, especially for Pinotage, appearing good in terms of size and quality.

‘Throughout the industry, winemakers anticipate excellent, fruity and tropical white wines with fresh characteristics.’

The huge crop comes after South Africa exported a record-breaking 417m litres of wine in 2012, up 17% on 2011 and overtaking the previous record by 10m litres.

Exports were boosted by favourable exchange rates and a global wine shortage, but bulk wines accounted for 59% of the total.

Written by Richard Woodard

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