Wine grape harvest 2016 nearing its end

[Image from La Motte.]

More than half the 2016 South African wine grape harvest is already in tanks or barrels, after what will be remembered as one of the hottest, driest seasons in the past decade.

The 2016 harvest is significantly smaller than the past three years, which were characterised by record harvests. While regions such as Stellenbosch and Swartland are nearing the end of their harvest season, there are still quite a lot of wine grapes to be harvested particularly in Worcester and Klein Karoo.

According to the head of VinPro’s viticultural consultation service, Francois Viljoen, this vintage has tested winemakers’ skills. “In general, the acidity and alcohol levels were quite low and winemakers need to work smart to obtain good quality wines. However, smaller berries that resulted from the dry conditions could lead to concentrated flavours, while low alcohol wines will be received well by the market,” explained Viljoen.

He emphasised that regions where the grapes had already been harvested will benefit from rainfall in the next few months – especially restoring water resources for the 2017 season.