The estimated size of the 2002 Cape wine harvest, which is in full swing, has dropped by 30 million litres compared to the initial estimate in early December.

This figure is expected to drop even further according to industry sources as the Cape experiences seesawing weather conditions and intermittent rain, including widespread showers in recent days.

According to the South African Wine Industry Information and Services, the crop would be an estimated 10,433,773 tons, which was smaller than the five year average, but up 6.9% on last year's figures. This would amount to about 794.3m litres at an average recovery of 761 litres per ton of grapes.

SAWIS says the Paarl, Malmesbury and Stellenbosch regions in particular could expect smaller crops. Downey mildew earlier in the season and rain in January was the main cause.

Good crop prospects were, however, expected in other areas, especially the Orange River, renown for its high tonnage. This is ideal for grape juice concentrate production.