SOUTH AFRICA’S WINE HARVEST DOWN 15 PCT AS DROUGHT BITES IN WESTERN CAPE PROVINCE

CAPE TOWN-- South Africans can expect to pay up to 11 per cent more for their wine this year because the wine harvest is down by 15 per cent as a result of the prolonged drought in Western Cape Province, where he country's vineyards are mainly located.

The lower crop will result in less volumes and this is expected to also have an effect on employment figures. However, it's not all bad news as producers have adapted and despite fewer grapes, the quality of wine for the 2018 harvest is expected to be exceptional.

Last year was labelled as one of the toughest production seasons in many decades. Areas such as the Olifants River region in the northern parts of Western Cape Province, received only 20 per cent of its usual water allocation, making production near impossible.

The drought, however, has accelerated structural change in the industry like business model changes and a new focus on innovation.

Rico Basson, the Managing Director of VINPRO, a non-profit company which represents 3,500 South African wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders, says 2017 was one of the toughest production seasons in many decades.

When the water source was cut back we had to deal with far less (water) and I think our producers and viticulturists were world class in still getting a sizable crop at a fantastic quality out there. I think we learned to do more with less water, I think the lessons of this season we'll take forward in terms of a lot of decision we make.

South African wines can hold their own against the best in the world and getting better prices for wines is a priority.

Research into new technology, especially in water management and innovative practices continues.

Winetech's Gerard Martin says: I think it's important that the industry is adapting, is agile, is really looking at innovative ways of how we can use this technology for survival and to be sustainable over time, I think producers are taking ownership of this problem.

The industry is expected to shrink by 10 per cent in the next five years butt fewer vineyards and smaller volumes could result in even greater quality and an increase in value.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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