By mid-March, the harvest was more than two thirds in the cellars.
After a cool pre-harvest, January and a 7-10 days later than normal start to the South African harvest with the early varieties, the warm weather conditions in February led to the quick ripening of all varieties. This resulted in the early varieties (like Chardonnay; Sauvignon blanc, Pinotage and Pinot Noir) and mid-season varieties like Chenin blanc, Merlot and Shiraz ripening at the same time. Some of the cellars took in about 50% of their production in two weeks. This then the reason why the harvest is further along than the same time last year. Temperatures in March thus far are mild and the nights cool down. This results in the slow ripening and good colouring of the late varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Indications point towards a smaller crop than the record in 2013. In the coastal regions bigger than expected crops are being harvested from the early cultivars, which may be ascribed to good weather conditions and supplementary rain. Dryland vineyards in particular are faring above average due to the favourable conditions. All indications are that quality in these regions is above average, for both red and white varieties.
VinPro, March 2014