Home News SA wine production volumes bounce back, but...

SA wine production volumes bounce back, but…

...insiders remain concerned about the covid-19-induced surplus of about 250 million litres of wine

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The first estimates of the 2020 world wine production volumes are out, and South Africa’s total production quantity has finally bounced back to normalcy after several years of drought.

According to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (IOV), Mzansi registered a double-digit growth of 1 040.0 million litres. The sharp return, levels South Africa’s harvest volumes back up to its former healthy status and is not far off from the industries initial expectations of 1 046.2 million litres communicated in May this year.

According IOV’s director general, Pau Roca, the world wine production volume is likely to be below average this year. Meanwhile, South Africa’s wine affairs appear to be in good standing despite the overwhelming series of droughts that swept across certain parts of the country.

Wanda Augustyn, media and communications manager at Vinpro
Wanda Augustyn, media and communications manager at Vinpro. Photo: Supplied

According to Wanda Augustyn, media and communications manager at Vinpro, the country’s outstanding performance is due to favourable climate conditions.

She says sufficient heat and good rainfall laid a good foundation for the 2021 crop. This was further strengthened by ample winter rain filling farm reservoirs and irrigation dams in most regions.

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“Furthermore, good rains in areas relying on irrigation meant leaching of salts from the soils could take place, improving soil quality and the ability to provide nutrients to the plant,” Augustyn explains.

At this stage, 2021 crops appear to be on par with the previous season and for now the industry does not expect the 2019 numbers to surpass 2020 harvest volumes.

The wine industry is holding thumbs that DISAPPOINTING 2018 and 2019 harvest figures remain a thing of the past.

While the return to normal offers the industry a sigh of relief, producers remain concerned about this year’s wine surplus of about 250 million litres.

Recently the South African wine industry faced an unprecedented oversupply of wine. This is due to the ban on wine sales during the national lockdown to contain the covid-19 pandemic.

The wine industry, however, is pulling out all the stops to find alternative uses for the excess wine. Industry bodies, various producer cellars and distilleries are reportedly working closely on finding solutions.

Already industry bodies have been in close contact with various producer cellars and distilleries to find alternative uses for the excess wine. Talks are also underway with manufacturers of fruit concentrate to take in a portion of the 2021 harvest.

Augustyn says, “Wine grape producers and cellars are also taking stock of their vineyards and making changes in the way in which they prepare for the 2021 harvest with a huge focus on quality while also securing sustainable productions beyond 2021.”

Mzansi produces 3.3% of world’s wine

South Africa is the ninth biggest wine producer world-wide and produces about 3.3% of the world’s wine. The wine industry contributes more than R36 billion to the country’s gross domestic product and employs nearly 300 000 people.

Meanwhile, the industry is holding thumbs that disappointing 2018 and 2019 harvest figures remain a thing of the past. In 2019 SA recorded 970 million litres and a disappointing 950 million litres in 2018.

These low numbers were as a direct result of droughts that plagued the country and other regions on the Southern Hemisphere.

According to Vinpro, the total amount of grapes crushed for wine decreased from 1.4 million tons in 2017 to 1.2 million tons in 2018 & 2019.

“The impact on the vines were largely carry-over effects of the drought as conditions in 2019 improved with regard to rain, but plants suffered due to erratic weather patterns during crucial stages,” Augustyn says.

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Duncan Masiwa
Duncan Masiwa
DUNCAN MASIWA is a budding journalist with a passion for telling great agricultural stories. He hails from Macassar, close to Somerset West in the Western Cape, where he first started writing for the Helderberg Gazette community newspaper. Besides making a name for himself as a columnist, he is also an avid poet who has shared stages with artists like Mahalia Buchanan, Charisma Hanekam, Jesse Jordan and Motlatsi Mofatse.
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