The 2005 South African wine harvest is expected to be down by about 4% year-on-year, according to South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS).

It is estimated that 1.26m tons of grapes will be harvested, from which 968.9m litres of juice is expected to be recovered. This represents a fall of 2.3% or 23.2m litres on the first estimate in November last year.

According to viticulturists this could be attributed mainly to decreases in harvest estimates in the Orange River, Malmesbury, Robertson and Worcester regions.

The main cause of the decrease, SAWIS said, is limited irrigation water in regions where it is necessary and a lack of groundwater in dry-land vineyards.