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Harvest Report 2011



Crop level maintained despite climatic challenges 


The 2011 season was characterised by considerable climatic fluctuations, especially unrelenting drought and heat throughout summer. What appeared to be a large crop early in the season, systematically shrunk, also due to cold conditions during flowering and a windy December. Large-scale flood damage along the Orange River also impacted on the wine crop. 

Despite all the challenges and setbacks, the industry is nevertheless pleased with the quality of the wines and the fact that the size of the crop will be about equal in size to that of 2010. The South African wine industry is able to buffer large fluctuations in overall crop size and quality thanks to the diversity of the respective cultivation areas. 

Crop size** - The 2011 wine grape crop is estimated at 1 279 017 tons according to the latest estimate (end of April) of the SA Wine Industry Information and Systems (Sawis). This is 1.4% more than the 2010 crop. With the exception of Orange River, Breedekloof and Worcester, all nine cultivation districts are expected to have bigger crops. 

The 2011 crop - including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine for brandy and distilling wine - is expected to amount to 992.5 million litres, calculated at an average recovery of 776 litres per ton of grapes. This is 1% larger than the 2010 wine crop. 

2010/11 Growing season - The 2010 winter arrived late, but sufficient cold units were accumulated at the end of May and beginning of June to ensure even bud burst. Winter rainfall was considerably below the long term average. Due to a warm August, bud burst in grapevines occurred 7 - 14 days earlier. 

The start of the growing season was cool, with a quite a few overcast days and regular showers which required preventative spraying programmes due to fungal prevalence. Fortunately none of the customary gale force winds prevailed early in the season and the grapevines were able to flourish. The southeaster was out in force throughout December, but little physical damage was reported. 

Cold, inclement weather conditions during flowering caused uneven and weak set in cultivars and grapevines that are prone to later bud burst, which impacted considerably on the crop size and quality. 

During the warm, dry ripening period several cultivars ripened simultaneously, thereby placing severe pressure on cellar capacity at times - with the result that cellar managers and winemakers in particular were thoroughly challenged. In the Orange River district floods and incessant showers complicated the crush, with large crop losses recorded. 

Grape analyses varied substantially and at times acids decreased rapidly while sugar content increased just as rapidly. The colour of the red cultivars is good, however, and „green flavours were already absent from an early stage. 

Wine potential - Despite a difficult year the producers, viticulturists and winemakers are positive that the wines would comply with the consumers requirements and standards. Although in some instances the flavours in white cultivars do not live up to expectations, the white wines in general are described as being attractive and balanced. The smaller berry sizes in red grapes resulted in intense colour, soft tannins and good structure.