2017 VINTAGE: DRY WINTER WARNING
Below-average rainfall occurred for the third consecutive year in most South African wine regions. At this late stage there is still some hope and predictions for rain even though the normal rainy season has nearly passed. Currently the 11 largest and most important storage dams in the Western Cape are at worrisome low levels, on average 27% compared to 55% for the same period in 2016. This also applies to farm dams and boreholes.
The 2016 (1 405 401 tons) and 2017 (1 425 283 tons) wine grape harvests already produced significantly smaller yields than 2015 and 2014 (respectively 1 477 092 and 1 519 710 tons) and at this stage it would appear; given the low levels of reported irrigation sources, as well as the lingering drought; that an even smaller crop is expected for 2018. Over and above the low levels of irrigation sources, there continues to be more vines uprooted than planted in the industry (this trend appears since 2007) which directly leads to a reduction of the total area planted as well as a decrease in the total harvest size.
The latest indications show that total stock levels in the SA industry at the end of December 2015 (534 million litres) will most probably decrease with more than 90 million litres by the end of December 2017 (442 million liters). This can be attributed to the following reasons:
- 2016 and 2017 smaller harvests;
- domestic wine sales for the past 12 months increased with about 3% from 390 million litres to 402 million litres;
- wine exports for the past 12 months increased with 8% from 418 million litres to 452 million litres;
- for the first time since 2008, total wine sales (domestic and exports) exceeds wine production, this lead to stock levels decreasing with shortages for certain varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Given the above situation wine prices are set to substantially increase next year.