The dry winter in 2015 set the scene for possible demand on vineyards, especially dryland. Spring brought fairly even bud-burst in the vineyards and cooler nights were most welcome. Pre-Christmas was looking good with little to no threat of fungal disease or vineyard pests.
And then the heat wave began with temps soaring to 46 degrees in areas like Paarl and Wellington, placing demand on vines requiring water to reduce stressed conditions at veraison. As a result, harvest began two weeks early and overall yields are down between 30-40%. Whilst berries are generally small and concentrated, metabolic changes during the heat wave have resulted in lower acids which can be adjusted.
Overall impression? The 2016 harvest challenges began in the vineyard, but will continue in the cellar as winemakers work hard to deliver the wines they have been planning for the past 15 months.