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Harvest Report 2012

EDITED 27 AUG 2012




Latest crop of exceptional quality



The South African wine industry is excited about a particularly promising wine grape crop, 

both in terms of quality and volume. The harvest season was characterised by healthy, 

ideal growing conditions and a cool, though lengthened, harvesting period without rain or 

prolonged heat. 

Inland wine growing areas recorded some of the best crops ever, while dwindling water 

supplies in the coastal region caused a systematic decrease in the anticipated crop over 

the season. The consequences of flood damage in the Orange River region in 2011 are still 



The total crop estimate exceeds that of 2011, and high quality wines are anticipated for the 

2012 wine grape crop. 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 2012 wine grape harvest is expected to amount  to 1 405 845 tons 

according to the latest estimate (30 April) of the SA Wine Industry Information and Systems 

(Sawis). This exceeds the 2011 crop by 8% and is only 10% smaller than the overall record 

crop of 2008. Paarl, Malmesbury, Stellenbosch and the Orange River will have smaller 

harvests, while the rest of the nine districts expect record harvests.


The 2012 wine harvest – including juice and concentrate for non-alcoholic purposes, wine 

for brandy and distilling wine – is expected to amount to 1 085 million litres, calculated at an 

average recovery of 772 litres per ton of grapes.


2011/12 Growing season  – The 2012 season kicked off with sufficient cold, but a drier 

winter than usual – in the coastal regions especially. Sufficient cold units had accumulated 

by the end of June, and with August being warmer, bud burst was a week early in some 

blocks. Vineyards showed good growth in the ideal weather conditions at the start of the 

new growing season.


Abnormally cold and rainy conditions during the second part of flowering resulted in uneven 

flowering and berry set, with high disease pressure, which producers managed to control 



Weather conditions were back to normal in December, and less wind than usual resulted in 

less damage to grapevines  than previous years. January was exceptionally hot, with 

heatwaves resulting in sunburn damage in some instances. This exacerbated pressure on 

dryland vineyards, which already had little soil water resources at that stage 2.


The ripening period in February and March was further characterised by ideal, cool weather 

conditions for slow ripening, resulting in good colour and flavour in red cultivars especially. 

Very dry weather also contributed to healthy grapes and the absence of diseases and rot.

Cooler weather delayed the start of the harvest by about two weeks and the last grapes 

were crushed two to three weeks later than usual.


Wine potential – Producers, viticulturists and winemakers are excited about the quality of 

this year’s crop, and some districts expect the best quality in years. The cool harvest period 

and slow ripening resulted in smaller berries with intense colour and exceptional flavours –

in the red cultivars especially – as well as optimal ripeness levels at lower sugars, which led 

to lower alcohol levels. Throughout the industry winemakers anticipate excellent white 

wines with good fruit and structure.