The season kicked off with a long, severe winter, from May to September, with 35% more rainfall than the long-term average and more than enough cold units for dormancy. The good rain resulted in full dams and good subsoil reserves and much later irrigation applications.
Bud burst occurred 7 to 10 days later for the early cultivars and later cultivars had bud burst on time, already predicting pressure during the harvest season. Even bud burst was observed as a result of sufficient cold units that were accumulated during the winter.
Spring was cold and rainy, and the soils stayed cold for long and initial shoot growth was slow. Thunderstorms occurred during November resulting in vigorous growth. More canopy management had to be done to prevent dense canopies such as the removal of lateral shoots and leaves to ensure sufficient sunlight and air penetration through the canopy.
Flowering was uneven and disease pressure high with downy mildew outbreaks in most regions. Powdery mildew infection was widely observed, where preventative spray programs were insufficient.
Mid-December until the first week of January was hot and dry, with widespread rain again during the second week of January. Although the season was later, véraison occurred on time and for most of the late cultivars even five days earlier.
The late rain increased the risk of rot and it was present throughout the season, although dry weather conditions later the season minimized losses. Sorting at the cellar became necessary and therefore an increase in the production costs.
The early white cultivars such as Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc showed considerably bigger crops, as a result of good berry set, and were up with 20% in some areas. Crops for the red cultivars also did well with a slight increase from 2013.
The harvest season was late and slow, with the early white cultivars only ripening a week to two weeks later than usual. The first grapes were taken in around the last week of January.
The temperatures from the beginning of January to March were mild with the only heat wave during mid- February. The sugar levels increased rapidly and some of the late cultivars even had to be harvested earlier than usual. The harvest was therefore taken in over a shorter period of time, which added to the pressure at most cellars in terms of intakes and cellar capacity.
The rest of the ripening period until end of March was cool, with relatively cool temperatures at night. This decelerated the ripening process and late cultivars such as Cabernet Sauvignon achieved good optimal ripeness.
Wine quality- Ideal weather conditions during harvest with moderate temperatures, cool nights and no prolonged rain or heat waves had a positive impact on the quality of the grapes, resulting in good colour and flavours. The pH levels of the wines were good early in the season but increased rapidly after the heat wave and low total acidity levels also occurred.