With a difficult summer rushing to an end, the South African wine industry is looking at a harvest decrease of 9.3% compared with 2004.

It was estimated on 11 February that 1,194,646 tons of grapes would be harvested compared to 1,313,200 tons last year according to SA Wine Industry Information & Systems (SAWIS).

It predicted today that juice for wine, grape juice concentrate, rebate and distilling wine would amount to 915.1m litres at an average recovery rate of 766 litres per tons of grapes.

Decreases of between 10% and 20% were expected in the Orange River, Worcester, Robertson, Little Karoo and Malmesbury regions, while in the Paarl, Stellenbosch, and Olifants River the same or slightly larger harvests were anticipated.

The decreases have been blamed on continuous rain and humid conditions during December and January in the Breede River Valley (Worcester and Robertson), which caused a certain amount of rot in early ripening varietals.

A viticulturist who operates in the Malmesbury area said conditions were very mixed. Some vineyards had losses of up to 40% loss, while neighbours were perfectly normal.