South African Distell Group 2018 wine grape harvest was 30% down on the previous year due to drought in the Western Cape but grape quality was promising, its head winemaker conveyed.
South Africa has declared Western Cape and other regions as disaster areas as a prolonged dry spell decimated the wheat crop and reduced apple, grape and pear exports to Europe.
“The ongoing drought in the Cape has certainly had an impact on this year’s harvest,” Niël Groenewald said in a statement. “We have seen slower ripening of the grapes than usual due to smaller canopies, limited water in the soils and that which is available for irrigation.”
A three year drought that is considered once a millenium weather event has significant negative impact on the South African wine industry, particularly with that segment that is geared to the production of low-cost bulk wine which relies heavily on irrigation.
With water rights cut by 50% in the Western Cape, wine producers are having to choose which vineyards to save.
Quotas have already been triggered to cut the amount of water available to vineyards by as much as 80% according to a “Quartz Africa”. Taking into consideration that 60% of South Africa’s wine exports are in the bulk category, and there is concern in the industry that, if South Africa can’t meet the demands, others exporters such as South America and Australia will take over the market. Once the market for South African wine export is taken by the competitors, the winning it over will be a challenge, requiring time and investment to re-introduce the African wines.