This year's South African wine crop is expected to be 9.2% bigger than last year, but still smaller than the average for the past five years.

It is estimated that the Industry will produce 1,6066,641 tons of grapes, amounting to 811.7m litres of wine and averaging about 761 litres per ton.

After four years of drought, the Cape has experienced its wettest winter and some areas their wettest summer in decades.

Following intermittent rains throughout the season, the effects of downy mildew are now becoming quantifiable and it is expected that there will be 15m litres less wine compared with estimated figures in November 2001.

Heavy rains in the Paarl, Stellenbosch and along the Cape south coast in January have also raised concerns that the crop might be even smaller, but exactly by how much cannot yet be determined.

In the Paarl area, 89mm of rain has fallen so far this month, close to the 96mm record of 1981. Cold fronts from the South Atlantic Ocean have been pushing in higher than normal this year, resulting in far cooler temperatures in most regions.