Southern Hemisphere Harvest Report 2019
Across the Southern Hemisphere, 2019 will go down as a vintage which both challenged and rewarded winemakers. Hot and dry weather in Australia (increasingly common in recent years) and New Zealand, put pressure on yields, although quality has remained good. Over in South America, the weather was relatively cool and dry, and the harvest ran smoothly; Argentinean winemakers are getting particularly excited about the potential of the wines. In South Africa, whilst 2019 did not see a repeat of the previous year’s drought, the vineyards were still clearly feeling the after-effects.
The general pattern for the east side of the country was one of cool weather, frost and high winds during spring, which had an adverse effect on flowering, followed by periods of extreme heat and drought during the summer, with the result that many regions will see lower-than-average yields from the 2019 vintage. These lower yields have however contributed to high-quality, concentrated fruit and the dry weather during harvest has ensured that grapes were healthy coming into the wineries.
New Zealand has experienced a mixed vintage in terms of volume, with early reports suggesting that total yields could be down as much as 20% against the pre-vintage expectations and also down against the previous year. A large portion of this deficit can be attributed to difficult weather conditions in Marlborough, although Hawke’s Bay also suffered. Despite these difficulties, quality is expected to be extremely good.
Winter was cold and dry, and the cool temperatures continued into spring, delaying bud-break. A normal pattern of rainfall during this period meant that water levels in the ground were sufficient. The weather remained quite fresh through December, before heating up late in January with the warm weather continuing through February. Chile’s harvest drew to a close in May and weather during harvest was excellent, with the dry weather meaning that the wineries could bring their grapes to the presses unhurried. Yields were broadly in line with the long-term average and the wines are expected to be fresh and elegant.
Overall, the harvest came in at a 7% deficit to the large harvest of 2018, although to put this in context, 2019’s total harvest was still 22% larger than the difficult 2017. Broadly speaking, Argentina experienced a cold winter, delaying veraison by a few weeks, followed by a warm and dry summer, which allowed for a calm harvest period and for grapes to be picked at the ideal moment. The wines from this vintage are expected to show the perfect balance of alcohol, fruit and acidity, with good concentration of aroma, colour and flavour.
Whilst South Africa did not suffer from a lack of rainfall in the 2019 vintage, the preceding three years of drought meant that many vineyards had still not recovered, and the overall size of the harvest fell again by between 1-2% against 2018. The after-effects of the drought were further exacerbated by rain and wind during flowering. Harvest began earlier than normal across the Cape, but a spell of cool weather came through slowing down ripening and causing a protracted period of picking and a later than normal finish.
A full report is available to download here.