Drought threatens South Africa 2018 vintage

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Drinks: Wines
Location: South Africa

It may be nearly four months away, but South Africa’s winemakers are already eyeing the 2018 vintage with concern amid fears that the Cape’s ongoing drought could have a major impact on volumes.

‘We’ve had a drought for over five years, and it’s going to hurt us this year,’ said Rudiger Gretschel, winemaker at Reyneke in Stellenbosch.

According to Gretschel, vineyards are budding early, proof that the vines didn’t ‘sleep’ properly over the winter.

‘Anything out of the norm spells challenges,’ he told Imbibe. ‘We are a bit nervous, to be honest. All the warning signs are there.’

Though there has been some rain over the winter, it hasn’t been enough to fill the dams and while growers with old bush vines that have deep roots might be unaffected, the vast majority of the Cape’s vineyards are wire-trained and irrigated to some degree.

‘Those vines have no depth of roots, there’s no buffer capacity,’ said Pieter-Niel Rossouw, winemaker at Darling Cellars. ‘If we get two or three inches of rain between now and the end of November, we will be ok. If not, it will be an interesting time.’

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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